Thursday, 29 January 2009

The differences between pre & post war bicycles

During the pre war years many bicycle manufacturers cut costs by enameling parts such as stems, crank sets & handlebars etc as the cost of getting these parts plated added to the total cost of the model and most customers did not have a lot of money to spend on a bicycle at the time. For most customers the bicycle was a necessity as they needed transport to get to and from work and therefore did not require anything fancy. After the war was over restrictions on manufacturers were lifted by the government and only then did models appear with chrome plated cranks, stems, handlebars etc. The two advertising pictures above show the differences between the Humber sports of the 1930s & the later 1947 model. According to my father who purchased his Humber sports in 1947 it was one of the 1st batch of bicycles to arrive in New Zealand from the UK with chrome plated components. Also during the 1st world war many bicycles were produced with all the components enameled black including rims etc as per the 1910 BSA pictured above.


Thom said...

Ah, very interesting. I've got a ca.1930 (I think) Runwell made in Birmingham that has nickel plating on the cranks, chainring, and stem/handlebars. There's no finish on the rear wheel anymore and the previous owner had the front wheel chromed, but I assume they were nickel, too. Was nickel perhaps a cheaper alternative to chrome? If I remember right, chrome first started to replace nickel in the late 1920s.

Don Speden said...

Hi Thom

Thanks for the comment, Most bikes after the 1920 - 1930s had Chrome rather nickel plating and the only way to tell is to try and find a collector of Runwells who may have an original catalog which would tell you exactly what your bike had. Your best bet for info would be to contact the Veteran Cycle Club in the UK as someone in the club would have the info you need. I am not sure if nickel was more expensive than chrome but chrome is a more durable finish so maybe that is why.

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