Saturday, December 29, 2012

How a Bicycle is Made - Raleigh, 1945

How to make a Raleigh, circa 1945.  No carbon fiber in sight.  Just good ol' steel and the scary tools required.  Remove the glamor of all things bike - and it looks sorta like a metal shop - a dirty old metal shop.

Check out how they "paint" the frames.  Ah, the good ol' days of no OSHA and EPA to worry about - or whatever the British equivalent is.  I get a kick out of these vintage films and how things were manufactured.

Interesting stuff...


  1. Those are some well made bikes! Less prone to break than carbon, especially if you happen to be one of those 300lb fat guys who can just happen to afford a high end carbon bicycle. I have to disagree here and say I would much rather have a bicycle from the past and made with these techniques than one of today's cookie cutter bikes.

  2. @Johnny. I kind of straddle both worlds, being semi-old guy and digging older steel frames - and newer carbon stuff. I worked in a bike shop during the early '80s, so the now retro steel bikes look "right" to me. I own a few steel bikes and one carbon - as well as aluminum. They all have their place and function. Carbon done correctly is super strong, light, and rides fantastic, no way around it.

    Even so, if I was going for the custom bike, I'd go for a higher end steel frame/fork from a local shop or custom builder. Partly for the history, the ride, the durability, and yes - with carbon now so common - as something a bit different.

    Also keep in mind, back when steel was king, things were a bit cookie cutter as well. Besides different "Paint 'N' Graphics", and steel tubing differences not visible to the eye, most frames and forks looked pretty similar - similar to the carbon scene today. Just a different era...

  3. Dan:

    Just came across your site and saw your earlier post on the Camry. Looks like you are still driving it--has it worked out well for bike stuff? I have a '96 Camry sedan right now and I am wondering about maybe going the wagon route. Do you have a roof rack? Any insights would be appreciated! Patrick

  4. @Patrick. I'm still driving it and lot more then I imagined. I've fallen off the bike commuting wagon for a few months, so been using it daily. It's also become the weekend family car. Two years later, just a few oil changes and set of front brake pads ($25). The killer used car deal.

    I installed a Yakima roof rack, using a mixture of old and new parts, can now carry 4 bikes. The wagon space is great for heading to races, rides, etc. Tons of room. Even has a flip out rear seat, so fits 7 people. I'm used to sports oriented cars, so a bit boring to drive - my first ever automatic trans. If you could add about 50 HP, stiffen the suspension some, and add a 5 speed - could be the perfect car.

  5. That is super helpful, thanks--I've been driving Camrys for a few years, and they are boring but easy. I don't see too many Camry wagons (they were never too popular) but I am thinking that if I see one I might dump my current sedan. Like you, I only paid around 3200 for the Camry (a one owner that had been dealer serviced) and it will probably run for another 75k or more...