I learnt to ride in the mid-1950s on my father's old bike - a prewar touring model with 'North Road Drop' handlebars (slightly dropped compared with racing handlebars) and a 3-speed gear with the control on the crossbar. And a certain amount of rust. In 1959 my parents bought me a bike: they couldn't afford anything expensive - I got a second-hand Rudge 'policeman's bike', bought for 12 - and the best 12 value I ever had.

My present bike (see picture) is rather better: a Raleigh Richmond frame. I never liked racing handlebars, so it's simply fitted with ordinary handlebars turned upside down. I also never liked derailleur gears, so the bike was fitted with a five-speed Sturmley Archer. This worked well for a few years, then the gears became unreliable and were replaced: the same thing happened a few years later: the five speeds don't have anything like the life of the three-speeds.

By this time Sturmley Archer had gone out of business anyway, so the shop recommended a Shimano Nexus 7-speed hub gear, and I will write about this in a later post.


Roger Wilmut