Saturday, June 27, 2009


The Two dollar bike

Yep, got this bike from the local recyclers for 2 bucks, less wheelset, seat and pedals.
It was painted in one of those appalling 80's tri colour paint schemes, that I am hoping is one of those fashions that don't have a retro revival.
Anyway first thing I did when I got it home was to strip it and spray it in rattle can satin black with off white front forks,rat rod styles, looked sweet.
I then got to drive a drill press without a license and proceeded to attack every component that looked like it could bear it with reckless disregard.
At that stage it had some tri bars on, so I drilled those to,but Rob down at the Hub cycle shop
took one look at those off they came.
When a guys got as much experience as him, you don't argue the toss, although I have to say they looked pretty cool all drilled out and all.
Rode it like this for about a year, it was kind of like a beater, didn't look much, but was light and real good around town.
Got bored one day and decided to give it a decent paint job.
After interviewing a lot of riders from the late 1950's and 60's and hearing their views on the Legnano's that they rode in NZ, which basically was, they were like lead pipe, plain gauge 531 at best for a few them I think. (This bike is 531 professional by the way).
I decided to make this bike a homage to those Beautiful if somewhat heavy Legnano's, and also to the 50's Greasers and their lowrider kustom cars, call it the 'LedSled' and paint it in the Legnano colours, and use silver paint instead of chrome in the modern Hi tech rod style.
I cut the LedSled out in stencil the same as the early Legnano's, which were also stencils.
Came out pretty nice I think.
I have got a nice Ken Evans frame hanging in the garage that would look nice painted like this, could do it for someone if they like this look of this?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Raleigh TI track bike

Somethings have gotta go
I had to sell this Raleigh track bike frame Sniffle..sniffle... set so thought I would post some photo's before it went.
Here they are, such a sweet looking machine.
Raleigh really got this one right.

Wolves of the road book

Wolves of the road
The Wisemans and Dulux six day tours 1953-1985
the book project
About 18 months ago I sold my screen printing business and decided to write a book on the New Zealand Wiseman's and Dulux six day cycle tours 1953-1985, this is the story so far....

These races were New Zealands own Tour de France, and were the proving grounds for pretty much all of our top road men over this period,and as such should be, in my opinion, documented in a beautiful book.

As far as I could see, that wasn't going to happen any time soon.
So I decided to write the book that I wanted to read.

The first thing that I did was to introduce myself to Neil Robinson, Neil (Robbie) had won the Dulux Tour in 1964. He was also the first rider to take the purple King of the Mountains and Maillot Jaune jerseys in the same year, during the Dulux years.
Fortunately he only lived three hours away in Gisbourne.
I drove up,and armed with a tiny tape recorder and plenty of enthusiasm, I proceeded to conduct my first interview for the book.
Robbie turned out to be the nicest guy one could meet, and also had a excellent memory, great scrap books (something which I have come to love), and all his old jerseys (something else I have come to love),but wait there's more...a couple of his old bikes (something I already loved!).

It was in hindsight the perfect interview, Robbie had all the things that I needed to make this book match what was in my minds eye, cool woolen jerseys,good information, great photos and most of all great stories.
The 1964 year was in the bag!

I realized at about this point, that to make this book work I would need to make sure that enough of the memorabilia, photos and riders were still around to fill a book with the stories and accompanying images needed to fill the tomb I had in mind.
So the next mission was to start tracking down as many of the earliest riders as I could and start piecing together the history, stories, memorabilia etc.

I am still in this process, but I now know there is enough history surviving to finish the project.

I have also put together a sample of the book using a bookbinder (featured below) with about 30 pages actually printed (the rest blank) to show prospective publishers the look and size, about 350 pages, that I have in mind.

This part was done with designer Fane Flaws and photographer Brian Culy.

Book Sample
Tino Taback on the attack Front piece, Brain 'Happy" Howlett winning last stage at Western Springs, Auckland
Wisemans six day tour 1954Spread page for the 1964 year1964 year with Neil Robinson and his purple King of the Mountains jersey.
As you can see every one of the six days is covered every year, giving the reader a first hand account of all the action and drama that took place.

This is why I am spending so much time, travelling and talking to as many of the riders involved as I can find, to get behind the headlines and find out the real stories, and believe me, there are some beauties.

A section on Hills Cycle Works.
There will be sections throughout the book that will cover the main New Zealand cycle shops, period magazines, cycle clothing manufactures, in fact anyone or anything that played a significant part in this wonderful history.

Wolves of the road

Starters page,every year all starters are listed, this way all riders who rode the Tour will get their name in the book, even if they don't get into the main text.
This page will also include results of top eight places and top three King of the Mountains riders.
Bio page, all Tour winners will get a short biography of their cycle racing careers. If they win twice I get to choose another of our great riders who maybe didn't win or didn't ride the Tour, and do a bio on them.

I have got a couple in riders mind already, any ideas on who you think would deserve their own bio?
There will be section's on the important road bikes used in New Zealand. In this section shown on Legnano, the road bike featured was Ritchie Thompson's ( Dulux 2nd three times, 3rd twice, New Zealand's Poulidor? )
I restored this one from a bit of a wreck, it was given to me by Neil Robinson (cheers Robbie).
The track bike was loaned by Ron Cheatly (cheers Ron)
Ritchie Thompson riding the Dulux day tour on a Legnano

The bike sections will have the manufactures histories along with their connection to the New Zealand scene.
I will feature Claud Butler, Frejus, Holdsworth,Bertin,TI Raleigh, RIH, Colanago, and of course a few New Zealand builders, I am hoping to use as many bikes that were actually used on the Tour as possible, so let me know if you know where any are.

I am really looking forward to restoring the bikes ( if they need it) when I find them, and then writing/photographing these sections.

So anyone with any relevant information on the race, riders,photos or bikes from this period etc please don't hesitate to contact me.
And especially any riders/photos/bikes from the 1953-1957 Wisemans era.
Reg Harris T-shirt
I am a screen printer by trade, and although I don't have a screen printing business any longer, I really dig printing and making new designs.

I started printing when I was a young punk in the early 1980's and you couldn't buy punk t-shirts so i started making my own and have been screen printing in some form or another ever since.

Well of course I had to turn my hand to making some other t-shirts you can't get! that being cool cycle racing t-shirt's, I am not sure if I will make these for sale yet, I really just wanted one for myself, but I guess if I get enough interest for them I will.

As you can see I used the illustration from an original Raleigh poster for this shirt, I can tell you there was many hours spent retracing it, but it came up very nice.
I have done a couple of others which I will post up at some point.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome to the Garage
or should that be welcome to the madness

Yep, this is where the magic happens,bikes are stripped, guitars are strummed,bits of old stuff cleaned,a little more strumming, a little more old stuff cleaned, a lick of spray paint, some assembly and hey presto something new to take out for a ride and or exhibit yay.
( if only it was that easy....)
Yes I do know where every thing is...well most of the time anyway

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The great Bill Pratney, one of New Zealand most enduring cash riders whose career spanned three decades from 1926-1957.

Notice Pratney is wearing a Leader Cycles jersey, as you will see later in this blog most early NZ frame builders had their own team jerseys. They were however mainly for pre or post publicity photo shots etc, and sadly are rarely seen in action.

This photo is from the Kennett Bros book
'Never say die" the Bill Pratney story,No 3 in their 'New Zealand Cycling Legend' series.
These guys are NZ's foremost cycle historians, check out their books on the link below and then buy at least one, firstly because they are a great read, and secondly because it will help support all their great work.

Detail shot of the Super Champion derailleur,a later upgrade of this bike which was originally a fixed wheel road/track machine.

Clarkes Cycles Works Ltd mid 1920's-late 1950's

Firstly I would like to say that I've spent many hours of digging,ringing and questioning to come up with not much information, so sorry for the lack of history about this important New Zealand builder.

What I have found is Clarkes Cycles was formed in the early 1920's in Newmarket, Auckland. The owners were of the Brethren faith, which is one of the main reasons I have had such little luck in finding any of the company's history.

Clarkes astutely employed known cycle racers to build their own line of cycles, called Leader. the racers were at first named "Superb" and later, as the model shown here, the name changed to"Special".
Clarkes offered off the rack domestic and road/track bicycles,or a custom built machine for the more discerning rider.

By 1951 there was two new Clarkes outlets in Auckland, the new outlets being in 267 Karangahape rd and 29 Victoria st.
As can be seen by the advertisements Leaders were used by many to
p North Island riders including the great Bill Pratney who rode a Leader early in his career.
Clarkes, like many of the older cycle business's around the country seemed to struggle though the mid-late 50's,and closed it's doors around this time.

After talking with the riders and studying copious amounts of photos from this period, it is plainly evident that Clarkes and their Leader Superb and
Leader Specials were a major force in the North Island scene through out the 30's-early 50's

Ad from NZ cycling review August 1951

Harden Hubs are also later edition to this bike which originally ran wooden rims and Vew hubs.

Some very nice hand cut head lugs, with the L being a nice touch.Such ornate lug work is very unusual for a bike of this period (late 30's).
Detail shot of the three speed Super Champion shifter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hastings Community Arts Centre April 2009
Waipawa Museum April 2008

The Flying Wheel Exhibit

This another thing that I have been doing over the last 18 months. Putting together and displaying an exhibit of the racing bicycle in New Zealand and associated memorabilia 1900-1985.

The first show was held at the Waipawa Museum April-June 2008, which was well received.I was then invited to take the exhibit to the New Zealand Cycle Expo 08, which is part of the Taupo Cycle challenge.
Siobhan and I set up the exhibit and looked after it over that weekend, which was a lot of fun.It also gave me the opportunity to see firsthand what non enthusiasts made of all this old stuff. Well to my surprise nearly everyone from all age groups seemed to really enjoy it.

This made me realize that given the right context most people can enjoy and appreciate all sorts of stories from of their collective national history, even if they had never encountered or even thought of it before.I found the experience very encouraging.

Unfortunately the photos from Taupo were lost, so can't show you anything from there.
Next up I held the exhibit at the Hastings Community Arts Centre briefly in April 2009. This time I had more room to spread out, and give the individual exhibits more space the show looked great, and was again well received.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bidons,water bottles and Flasks

This is the first plastic bottle to be produced by Coloral, late 1950's
Interesting to note cork stopper still being used (although I don't think this is it's original)

Nice green front twin set of Coloral bottles, with printed rather than the normal pressed details on underside.
Same size stopper as normal bottle.
A very attractive narrow sized Coloral bottle that twists out of it's unique front mount holder.One of my favorites.