London Bike Ramblings

I was fortunate enough to spend a day in London last week with my daughter doing a mixture of shopping and just having some very important dad and daughter time together. Normally we head straight for Camden Market on these days but this time we went to Portabello Road for a change , I gave my daughter the job of working out what tube line we needed to get us there and back via wherever else we decided to go on the day .

 Ladies Claud Butler

First bike spot of the day was a nice Ladies Claud Bulter complete with a Brooks saddle. It amazes me how cheap you can pick up a ladies framed retro bike compared to the gents framed equivalent , with the low slung frame design it has a lot going for it once you realise it , i.e. easier to mount and dismount as no top tube in the way .

Next up were these two bikes that were actually for sale amongst the various market stalls ,  one is a fairly modern Raleigh MTB and the other is a lot older Rudge ladies road bike complete with Westwood rims and rod brakes and a very worn Brooks saddle. It looked totally original to me with a quick glance, complete with guards front and rear . I wasn’t sure the white Schwalbe tyres were right at first but the more I look at it , I think they actually do look right . There was no asking price I could see on either bike but both would have been ideal for pooling around town on, if for nothing else .

 2 bikes for sale

A bit further up Portabello road there were 3 more bikes for sale , this time there were a couple of nice gents road bikes one being a nice Puch whilst the other was a Sun both showed a nice selection of patina both of these would have been from around the 1970’s or early 80’s looking at them . The 3rd one was a non descript ladies bike .

3 bikes for sale

We then moved over to the Covent Gardens area of town , where there were a lot more bikes of all styles and types locked to lamp posts and street railings or any other sturdy fixtures . A lot more of these bikes were newer style bikes rather than older retro ones . A lot of modern bikes don’t do a lot for me so they just get a casual glance if they are lucky where as a retro bike always gets a look .


This Raleigh caught my eye as there have been various models over the years that have all used the same or a very similar paint scheme. This one sported a Reynolds 531c sticker which caught my eye rather than the more normal 18 – 23 tubing sticker , upon closer inspection I noticed no front brake caliper was fitted which I always think is rather silly but riding around London with just 1 brake has got to be silly rather than fashionable .

 Raleigh 531c

We then stumbled upon the “Brooks” shop in the Seven Dials area just a short walk from Covent Garden. Apart from being full of leather saddles and other such cycling accessories it also had a couple of rather nice display bikes sporting a variety of “ Brooks” accessories . The centre piece display bike was a “ Paul Smith “ single speed Mercian finished in a nice blue and pink combination . There was a very nice “ Hartley” cycles touring / expedition bike which had some stunning detailing around the fork crown area amongst other places . This was name I had not heard of before but it certainly looked very nice with a good quality finish and appearance .

 Paul Smith MercianHartley Fork crown

So as you can tell whilst my daughter had a good day browsing around the shops her dad had a good bike spotting day as we made our way around London. The bike below was by far the best one of the day , it was ridden up and padlocked just as we approached the area where it was parked . So my question is how do you ride a bike with a buckled wheel like that !



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