1933 Rudge 28″ Gents with Double Top Tube
EMI Ltd bought Rudge in 1935, so this double top tube Gents would have been one of the last of the original Rudge machines.
A Rudge Whitworth roadster with a 28 inch frame required a special order; likewise, a double top tube machine.
When we view a manufacturer’s catalogue many years later, we may assume that the options on offer were the only ones available. But this was the era when personal service was of paramount importance, and customers could order any permutation of fittings and accessories they required. Bear in mind that when this bicycle was manufactured the world was only just recovering from the Great Depression – who in their right mind would refuse a paying customer anything?
The 1930s catalogues did not illustrate the 28″ frame with double top tube option, but these machines were named by Rudge Whitworth the All Weather Roadster.
You can see a 1912 version of this model below
I can ride a 26 inch bicycle, but for short-legged folks such as myself, a 28 inch machine is utterly unrideable!
Perhaps my collection, which includes a number of tall bicycles, could be considered the ‘revenge of the short legged enthusiasts?’ After all, why should vintage bicycle ownership be restricted to six footers?
The question of owning but not using a vintage bicycle is an interesting one; it’s the dividing line between collectors and riders.
Actually, the real dividing line of vintage bicycle enthusiasts seems to be one of age: those enthusiasts over sixty-five or so generally prefer lightweight machines, whose heyday was pre and post WW2. They tend to use their bikes more, so a lightweight is admittedly a very practical mount.
I’m still in my fifties, and my interest is driven by patina. I love old vehicles of any sort, particularly those retaining their original paintwork, manufacturers badges, accessories, etc. and my interest is historical more than ridability. I prefer the ‘old black bikes’ as they were the models to mobilize the British population in the first half of the 20th century. I don’t necessarily even prefer the oldest or most obscure machines in my collection; I’m just as happy on a fifties bike that rides well as an early treasure.
But whatever vintage vehicle I use, I do like one that reeks of ‘faded glory.’ Apart from a spin sitting on the crossbar (and unless I can bolt a pair of platform sole shoes to the pedals) this tall Rudge will have to remain in my shed; but I think you’ll agree that it does meet the above criteria of originality.
RIPLEY, SURREY, ENGLAND
If any older vintage bicycle enthusiasts read these pages, they will no doubt have spotted that I’ve photographed this Rudge leaning against the Send and Ripley History Society building. After I bought this Rudge the seller delivered it to me at one of the Riply Road cycle jumbles, situated in the Village Hall next to the museum. I thoroughly recommend these jumbles: they are not widely publicised so you’ll need to do a bit of googling to find out the date of the next one. (They are publicity shy because this location can not handle large crowds; so please park your car with due respect to the residential neighbourhood).
The village of Ripley is important in the history of cycling in this country:
Following the closure of Newark Priory, Ripley found fortune catering for the increasing number of travellers on the Portsmouth Road, which passed straight through the village. At one time the High Street was lined with numerous inns, pubs and beerhouses. Many of these have now gone but the ‘Talbot’ and the ‘Anchor’ still give a taste of those great days of coaching.
The coaching trade was, of course, killed off quickly once the railways had been built. As a result Ripley passed through a ‘thin’ period during the mid-19th century. However, it was revived from the 1870s onwards by the growing interest in cycling, both for recreation and sport. Following the invention of the modern ‘safety’ bicycle in the 1880s Ripley developed as a weekend destination for Londoners, who had discovered the ‘freedom of the open road’. It became the most popular run from the capital and it is claimed that the number of cyclists arriving at Ripley could sometimes be counted in their thousands.
By 1910 the cyclists had a new rival on the road to Ripley – the automobile. The motor car was eventually to oust all but the most daring cyclist from the Portsmouth Road. It also threatened to strangle Ripley, especially when the number of cars on the road began to increase dramatically from the late 1950s.
Fortunately, Ripley was saved by the building of new A3 road which bypasses the village. Traffic can still be heavy at times but Ripley has managed to retain a great deal of character.
[information thanks to – http://www.ripleyvillage.org.uk/history.html%5D