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.

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