How many current cyclists even know who Alf Engers is and what he did for cycling?
It’s a name I have heard of over the years and often linked to tales of his epic time trialing skills and the different ways he used to lighten his racing bike by drilling holes or trimming excess material away . He is often seen riding a “ Shorter “ bike in a lot of the pictures when you do a “google image” search .
So when I saw a Shorter & Rochford for sale a few weeks ago locally it was too good an opportunity to miss , an appointment was made to go and view the bike that the original owner had used for time trialing and as far as I was told he was sponsored by Shorter & Rochford , so he must have been quite good at it .
Once I saw the bike in the flesh I knew it was coming home with me , things like the chrome front forks , shot in rear stays , fantastic colour and the general condition were all plain to see and made the decision for me .
A quick look around and I spotted that most of the components fitted were all from the late 70’s to early 80’s era and were all of the quality you would expect . The gear train is a mixture of Simplex levers ,Suntour front mechanism ,Huret rear Mechanism , Campagnolo chain set that were all nice and clean with little sign of use .
The brakes are what appear to be first generation black dura ace calipers operated by matching drilled dura ace levers. They even had the original dura ace brake blocks that squealed at the slightest touch, I should think that they have aged over the years, so these have been replaced by more modern Clarkes items .
It was fitted with a set of sprint and tubs of mixed origins , sadly the tubs were well perished and a gentle ride around the block soon revealed that these were not safe to use . I decided not to use sprint & tubs so found a nice set of Clinchers wheels in the garage and fitted them , these are made up with Shimano Exage hubs laced on to Wolber GTX rims . This wheelset is slightly more modern than the rest of the bike but I don’t think they look out of place .
The only other changes I have made have been to suit my set up i.e. swapping the 70mm quill stem for a longer 115mm 3TTT unit , replacing the short and nicely fluted Sr seat post for a longer modern black one and then a swap of pedals . These changes have enabled me to mirror the set up dimensions of a couple of my slightly larger framed bikes I have in my collection that I find so comfortable .
A couple of short round the block rides confirmed that the set up felt good and the three 10+ mile rides I have covered so far also felt good .
It’s a lovely looking bike that should be a pleasure to own and keep . I am certainly looking forward to doing some more miles on this as time goes by . As for whether it’s a keeper or not it’s too early to say for sure .