Easy Ride Wednesday And Some Nostalgia..

I went out for a ride on the Specialized today.. primarily to try out the new saddle and begin the necessary process of wearing it in..

Specialized resplendent with new Brooks saddle

Its part of the settling in process and takes a while to acquire the shape of my ‘seat’.. 🙂

It reminds me of when I was young and racing with Watford Roads CC in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and setting my bikes.  I bought a Brooks saddle from Holdsworths bike shop in Putney, on the Thames in west London.  The manager at the time was Roy Thame and he was a member of Hemel Hempstead cycling Club, a neighbour of ours in Watford.  Holdsworths were one the historically famous bike builders of that time when there were lots of hand-built British bikes.  Apart from Holdsworths I remember seeing Claud Butler, Freddie Grubb, Hetchins and Youngs of Lewisham which is the bike I used to race on and still have frame in my garage in mid restoration.  Also in those days there were  Condor bikes from North London who are still around and race as Rapha Condor, there are loads more If I really thought about it.  The ones I mentioned were mainly local to me I know there were lots up north.  You didn’t get many continental bikes and definitely not far eastern ones.

They had a service whereby you would buy a Brooks saddle from them and they would ‘doctor’ it.  They originally came with steel rivets in the saddle and they would replace those with copper rivets and hammer them down just like those on the saddle I have just bought.  That finish wasnt available then.  Also they cut off surplus leather around the nose and shape the sides a bit more.  They would also strip the shiny finish off the leather and treat it with something to soften it and then it would have a matt finish on it.  They used to look great and were much sought after and they were the same as used by the Holdsworth racing team.

Roy Thame started working for Holdsworths in 1953, he was a former sailor and they appointed him after he had previously worked at a cycle shop in Hemel Hempstead where he lived.  He worked with the company for more than 50 years and managed the professional team that the company established in the 1960s as well as Great Britain teams in world championships. Thame also served on the British Cycling Federation committees nationally and acted as a commissaire, or chief referee, on domestic multi-day races such as the Tour of the West.

I remember one of my friends used to have a Holdsworth bike and we would regularly bike to the shop all the way through the west of London and think nothing of it.  Just to have a browse around and see the bikes and then bike back again having bought nothing.

‘Aahh Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be… ‘


2 thoughts on “Easy Ride Wednesday And Some Nostalgia..

  1. It is a shame what globalization has done, isn’t it? It would be nice to know your bike was made just up the road and not on the other side of the world by an Asian working for a pittance. Thanks for the story!


    • We do still have a few British frame makers and bike builders but very few and far between. I can think of Condor in the south and they are used by the Rapha Condor team and there are a few up north, one of which the name escapes me but was featured in the video and book ‘Its all about the bike’ and they will build a frame to your exact requirements geometry wise not just a stock carbon fibre frame.


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