Classic

Taken at the Manchester Tweed Ride on Saturday, a Hercules Roadster. Like many of the British bicycle manufacturers, Hercules was eventually rolled into Raleigh through eventual owners of the majority of the bicycle manufacturing business, TI industries. The Hercules Roadster may have been made around the time of this amalgamation; William, its owner, informed me that the rear hub was dated as 1949. The similarity of the frame to that of the DL-1 is quite striking. It just goes to show, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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4 thoughts on “Classic

  1. "The similarity of the frame to that of the DL-1 is quite striking. It just goes to show, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."Beautiful!And speaking of similarities, when I was in La Crosse, Wisconsin on our bike tour we stayed with a gent that has an impressive collection of old bikes. He also had a sizable collection of Raleigh catalogs from 1930s-1980. (He also had a lot of S-A catalogs as well.) Going through year after year, not only did the basic models stay the same over the years, it looked like they had multiples of the same thing each year. Really, it was hard to figure out what the difference was between all the bikes listed–and they sure had a lot of models to choose from!And looking at other old British bike catalogs, it happened with everyone too. Basically when you boil it down, there was the "roadster" frame, the "sports tourist" frame, and the "sporty" frame. Not a lot of choice in frame styles, but I don't think people needed more. Or cared. A big difference from now, I'll say.

  2. @AdventureRaleigh were masters of badge engineering. For many years they essentially sold only a handful of different bikes but they came with slightly different details such as chainguard designs, shifters, chainset & lamp bracket styles, accessories and head-tube badges. A lot of this was so that they could offer 'exclusive' deals to every bicycle shop in a city whilst ensuring that they all effectively sold their complete bike range.The 'Sports' frame in particular remained popular for decades and was sold under dozens of different model names and Raleigh-owned brands. By the 50s, nearly all of the other British brands were actually re-badged Raleighs, hence the similarity. It was never that much of a problem so long as the three bikes they actually made were good designs, as they generally were. It's a shame that they tend to cater more for the 'sporting goods' and 'bicycle-shaped object' markets nowadays.

  3. Mr. C- I think the interesting thing about Raleigh doing that is the fact that I couldn't even figure out what the differences were, for the most part. If you took the lowest priced sports roadster and the highest priced sports roadster, you'd see the difference in "options package". But all the models in between, with their various shades of grey? You'd be hard pressed to say how one was different (and therefore, higher priced) than the other.I think I've said it before, but Raleigh of that era reminds me a lot of General Motors, a company that had a similar dominance in its respective market. Chevy, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick made the same cars, but the options packages and cosmetic details were different. This is a fine model when a company is on top and they have brands that appeal to certain demographics. But when companies like this slide, having too many variations of the same thing is bloat. That's a major reason why GM axed the Pontiac and Oldsmobile divisions over the past decade. And also why Raleigh did the same thing with its many brands. No reason to make BSAs, Humbers, etc. when you're getting your pants knocked off by foreign bicycle makers.

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