The chain gang

Here’s a great bit of cycling ephemera from David Evans. Lord knows where he found it, but I so love this. A brief history of Villiers, a true Wolverhampton engineering success story, who were associated with Sunbeam bicycles can be found here on the Wolverhampton University local history pages. I think this pamphlet is from the 1930’s.

You have to think carefully about this to get your head around how it works. Click for a legible image.

Gears were where it was at. Fancy French and Italian bikes where sporting nascent derailleur systems, and the mass-produced hub gear was still some years off becoming cheap enough for all. Click for a larger version.

While we’re on the subject, some very exotic systems appeared in the years before the derailleur and hub gear became the accepted norms. Hirondelle and others used a system that gave four gears in a very peculiar, innovative way. The system below is French and dates from 1925. See if you can work out how it functions.

This is fiendishly clever. I’ll post a link to the system’s function later in the day. See if you can work it out - although those who follow me on twatter will know, as I’ve discussed it previously. Photo by M.S. Gerritsen of a rather remarkable bike.

You need both images to make sense of it. Must have taken ages to learn how to ride it. Photo by M.S. Gerritsen.

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3 Responses to The chain gang

  1. pedro says:

    Hi Bob,

    Last year I went to have a look at the Gate and Piers at the old Villiers factory in Wolverhampton. They are a Grade II Listed Building, having been taken from Tong in Shropshire in 1977 where they were designed by Capability Brown in 1765; they can be seen here as they were in 1977…

    Grade II Listed Building see here…

    Of course when I found them in 2011 there was not much left, see here…

    All the best Peter

  2. pedro says:

    Sorry the link for the present photo should be…

    Regards Peter

  3. Pingback: Going by the book « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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