My Hankering

I have a hankering for a nice original 50’s or 60’s bike , I don’t really care if it’s a road bike built by one of the many small frame builders of the times or if it’s a mass produced make

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1950’s Raleigh Roadster

.The most important thing I would want is originality i.e. original paint and decals , if it had the ability to run 27” wheels then even better as I have a good stock of 27” alloy rims and a couple of pairs of built wheels all ready to go . I am sure somebody will shout did you not just sell a 1950’s Pollard road bike ? The answer to that is, yes I did .

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Pollard

The Pollard in question was ideal as it was far from immaculate but still had a lot of its originality intact , but it was just too nice and interesting to sit around waiting to be used by me so I sold it to a gentleman who is in regular contact with Eddie Pollard as I knew he would enjoy owning such a bike . A couple of days ago I noticed a very nice looking Dawes Diploma for sale but due to life commitments I could not see how I was going to get the time to go and collect it in the not too distant future , so I let a good friend know about it and without surprise he promptly bought it .

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Dawes Diploma

This just goes to show these kind of bikes are available without breaking the bank I just need to find one a bit more local to me. I am aware of a very original Raleigh Trent that has not moved in the last 10 years but the owner will just not sell it as it was the bike he used for his paper round  and was bought new for him by his late parents. He also told me about all the cycling adventures he did on it over the years when he rode it . The last time I saw it a couple of months ago it was looking a little forlorn with tyres that were flat and rotted away , rust starting to show on the steel rims and the cobwebs were doing a good job of holding the saddle bag together as well as disguising the burgundy red paint that would love to have a gentle clean and polish to revive it back to an almost shiny finish .

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Pollard

When I get chance on Saturday I am going to go and see its current owner and see if he has changed his mind about selling said beast , I am sure his answer will be no but I might as well ask him again .

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1950’s Pollard Confirmed

I am sure a few of my blog readers will have already seen my Facebook post on Racing Bike Biggs682 facebook page about how my Pollard has been confirmed as either a 1954 or 1955 built machine .

 

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Pollard

 

Also confirmed was that it has Oscar Egg lugs, seat stays that are tapered at both ends, a frame number in the correct place and the right number of digits and like the vast majority of Pollards it was built with Reynolds 531 tubing . I was never in doubt it was a genuine Pollard but just wanted to get it direct from the horse’s mouth if possible so I contacted what I hoped was a gentleman that bought an ex Vic Clarke Pollard frameset from me a few years ago who is also in contact with Eddie Pollard, the son of William Pollard .

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Pollard Fastback

Luckily enough my contact hadn’t changed his e mail address etc etc and he received my e mail and came back asking for some pictures showing the headstock and saddle clamp areas . Once these were forwarded to him he responded within 24 hours confirming the above and stated that it was well worth restoring . Now this puts me in a quandary as I don’t mind riding a bike that has loads of patina and shows its knocks and bruises with pride .

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POLLARD

Sadly over the years a lot of the original parts have been replaced with newer ones and some of these were removed when I started its recommissioning a few months ago . When I picked it up it had a Custom crankset and a mixed set of wheels ie a 27” clincher type front wheel and a 700c tub and sprint rear wheel , these were replaced by a set of modern 27” alloy rimmed wheels and I managed to obtain a single Sugino crankset that was more in keeping than the Custom crank was .

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Pollard

 

I also swapped the original very short stem and bars over for a nice set of G.B Maes bars and a lugged stem to give me a better position on the bike , the original brake levers have been re fitted along with new cables . The only other original part as far as I am aware of is the domed Reynolds alloy seat post that looks to carry a 1951 date code .

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Pollard

So far I have ridden approx 120 miles on this set up and it rides nice enough but a fine tune here and there wouldn’t go amiss to aid smoothness , I wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out for a wider ratio rear cassette in either 5 or 6 speeds just to make hill climbing slightly easier than present .

I doubt very much that I will repaint the frame and rebuild with correct period parts as I don’t personally like that idea much as the time trying to track period parts down can be awfully long winded and then is it worth it in the long run .

A good friend of mine asked me “Do you test your bikes after you have done repairs on them ?”

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Pollard

Simple reply is yes I do, no matter what work I have done , my normal routine after acquiring a new bike to me is if it’s safe to ride then give it a gentle ride around the block and try and do an evaluation of what work is required .
 
I normally start with replacing the inner and outer brake cables where required along with gear cables , tyres , inner tubes , brake pads along with overhauling the bottom bracket and headsets and hub rearing and any truing up of wheels if required . 

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Continantal TourRIDE

As the majority of bikes I sell come to me after not being used for a few years there are not many that don’t need all the above doing just to make them safe to ride never mind anything else . Once the work has been done the testing process begins with a couple of gentle loops of a 1.5 mile circuit any required adjustments or further repairs are done and the testing process continues . Once I am happy on these short loops I do slightly longer loops till I feel confident enough to tackle one of my normal 12 miles loops after a couple of these have been completed without any issues the bike then moves across in to my riding fleet where it will be used for any number of 25+ mile rides till I have covered at least 75 – 100 miles without any reliability issues .

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Pollard

During the above process I also make the decision if the bike is to be a keeper or not, if not it is given another clean and then put up for sale .
So as you can see the vast majority of bikes I sell really are ready for the next adventure with their new owner , some bikes are sold as projects for other people who enjoy tinkering with bikes to do what they want to .
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W & E Pollard

My Latest Pollard Find

Sometime during the evening of January the 22nd 2016 I sent a private message to a fellow forum member on retrobike in response to the following thread .

 

” Hello forum, I have for sale a Pollard racing bike – I believe it is a 60’s bike but I am not an expert. The bike was my fathers, but due to him going in a home I am having to clear his home. I believe frame,handlebars,brakes&leaver and wheels are original, but running gear not. The frame has a small dent in the top tube. I have taken a few pictures, but unfortunately can’t upload the picture. I have no idea what it’s worth, so PM if you would like further details, regards – ”

 

Being a Coventry kid I always keep an eye out for any Pollards that come up for sale and usually watch as the selling price goes skyward . I was lucky enough in this case to get in first . On receipt of a picture I was still interested and committed to the seller that I would take it as long as we could agree a fair price which we did without too much trouble .

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Pollard

The only issue if there was one, was the collection, but luckily the seller was based just outside Warwick and was prepared to hold on to it for me . Eventually the day came for me to go and collect the said bike , when I first saw it in the flesh I was more than happy, ok it had a few years worth of dirt and dust laying over the frame and the pair of mixed wheels it came with but underneath all of this I could see a nice bike with loads of history , I questioned the seller re its history but he only said it was his fathers race machine that had served him well through out its use .

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Pollard

Once home I could have a proper look around it and ok there was an awful lot of wear and tear related marking and scuffs but overall I could still see the nice bike trying to get out from underneath . My first job was to try and remove the saddle and seat post which came out quite easily compared to some others , next up was to slot a pr of wheels in the frame so I could manoeuvre it around easily . Once this was done it was wheeled away to its resting position in my garage till its turn came to be worked on .

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Pollard

Its turn emerged in mid June 2016 where my first job was to strip and service the bottom bracket closely followed by the headset , over the years most of the original equipment had been replaced by various parts from various years . The Sugino bottom bracket came apart easily enough and had very little sign of use so a quick clean and some fresh grease was all that was required . The headset also showed little wear and tear but void of any grease and all the bearings needed washing to remove the dried up coating they had . Whilst the fork was out I checked for any  number stampings but none were found .

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Pollard

I was kindly donated a rather nice 48 tooth Sugino single crankset so that i could run a 1 x 6 gear system using the sachs huret rear mechanism and Campagnola down tube shifter .All the above were treated to a gentle clean along with a new Clarkes chain .

 

Next up were the Shimano Tourney brake calipers that seemed in fine fettle and just needed a dusting and some new brake pads and operating cables . It was at this time that I decided to ditch the original 22 mm GB Maes Stratalite bars and chromed stem for a slightly longer lugged stem with a set of later GB Maes bars but kept the original GB Super hood brake levers .

 

Next up was to clean up the original seat post which to my amazment was a Domed top Reynolds hiduminium item complete with a date stamp 9 – 51 which came as a surprise to me because I still thought this was a 60’s machine , but I was ignoring the head stock grease nipple and the gear cable roller guide and grease nipple on the bottom bracket shell .

 

Once all the above was done it was time to try it in the work stand,  it worked ok so I fitted a set of pedals and a nice Wrights leather saddle and went for a gentle ride up and down the cul de sac just to get an idea of what else was required work wise .The only thing that became apparent was the need for a slightly longer bottom bracket spindle which I duly replaced . Once this was dome the drive line was much easier to turn .So off we went for a 1.5 mile test ride so I could try some comfort related adjustments to the saddle and bars position .

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Pollard

Whilst looking around the garage I found a nice set of Bluemels Club sport guards that I thought would look good so on they went and after a little time they were on and adjusted so they didn’t rub or rattle too much .

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Pollard

Seeing as the weather was forecast to be damp most of the day I thought today would be a good day to get some commuting miles under this bikes tyres and after 8.5 miles I can report all went well and it rode nice and smoothly indeed , oh and I also discovered a 4 digit stamping on the seat post clamp area which makes this a genuine Pollard bike rather than a bought in frameset that was fitted with Pollard decals .

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Pollard

The joy of single speed

Over the last few days I have been reuniting myself with the art of riding a single speed bike equipped with a freewheel rather than a fixed wheel .

Peugeot Singlespeed

Over the years I have owned and ridden 6 such bikes and 1 that had a flip flop rear hub so I could run fixed or freewheel , these have ranged from a couple of basic Peugeots to an unknown make track bike that was a great bike to ride and own but I just couldn’t get on with riding fixed so spent most of its life on freewheel . I will have to try riding fixed again soon to see if with a more correctly sized frame it makes it easier, as the track frame was on the larger size of my fitment range .

Unknown Track frame

Realistically, a single speed bike should be able to be built up a lot cheaper than a multi geared one due to the lack of gear levers and mechanisms that would need to be purchased. The lack of these components also reduces the weight of the completed bike as well . So far I have not built one using all dedicated single speed products, they have normally been assembled using components I already had in my various spares box .

I used a Sigma branded steel frame of unknown grade for quite a while and found it one of the best bikes I had owned at that time for commuting on , the lack of gears makes them an ideal commuting machine as they have fewer parts that can go wrong or need maintenance . The Sigma was a nice bike to ride and handled all I threw at it over the period I owned it . Another build I did was based around a modern alloy framed Saracen and again that was nice to ride but not quite the ride quality of a good old steel framed bike .

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Sigma

All other builds have been based around good old steel frames ranging from an early 80’s Falcon with Ti Tubing rather than Reynolds as can be seen from picture below. I built this one up with flat bars rather than drops so it was a bit more user friendly and ideal for nipping in and out of traffic . As mentioned earlier, I built one round what was believed to be a 60’s or 70’s track frame complete with rearward facing dropouts and undrilled rear brake bridge meaning it was only equipped with a front brake operating, which didn’t help with the riding experience . It was a nice ride and introduced me to the art of riding fixed gear as it was equipped with a flip flop rear hub .

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The other bike that has not been mentioned so far is my Pollard Specialite which I have owned for 4+ years now and has been ridden in geared format and was converted late last year to single speed. Again this has been built around a steel frame that either started life as a track or pathe frame from an earlier era that at some point has been fitted with more recent front forks . When first purchased this was set up with later shimano 105 mechanisms and handlebar mounted thumb shifters and was rode with that set up for 3+ years before I finally decided to convert it to single speed . It’s a great bike to ride no matter what set up and as it bears the name of a Coventry / Bedworth cyce maker it has a link to my birth town .

Single speed Pollard