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moulton

  • Modern Legends

    The Moulton Bicycle was a real innovation when it was first launched in the Sixties. Compact, speedy and with a style all its own, it’s still a hit 50 years on

    Words Gretta Cole, Main photographs Joanna Dudderidge

    Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.02.30

    Joanna and I had the opportunity to visit Moulton HQ, so we jumped in the car with our camera and sped down the M4. Tucked away in rural Bradford on Avon, a town in west Wiltshire with a population of 9,500, Moulton is one of the last remaining British bicycle manufacturers, its products are still hand-built and exported around the world.

    Sir Alex Moulton had passed away in December 2012 aged 96, so we were too late to meet the legend himself. The Moulton residence is called The Hall, a towering Jacobean stately home built in 1620, which has been the home of the Moulton family since 1846 and was the site of the original Moulton factory in 1962.

    We ambled towards reception, taking in the picturesque scenery and the warm honey colour of the Bath Stone buildings, looking down on the courtyard is a frieze of Britain’s most successful professional cyclists Tom Simpson racing his Speed.

    After our meet and greet, Dan Farrell , Group Technical Director, led us through a blue door where the Moulton team were busy at work engineering their quota of impressive Moulton bicycles. Tim Bigwood started at Moulton in 1962 as the tool and jig maker and has worked on every Moulton bicycle. And to this day, the Moulton factory sits in the former stable on the same property where it all began.

    The History

    Stephen Moulton came to Bradford on Avon In 1848. Steven was a friend of American Charles Goodyear, who invented the vulcanization of rubber, making it much more durable, and leading to new uses for the material such as rain capes for British soldiers fighting the Crimean War. When Stephen Moulton bought The Hall, formerly known as ‘Kingston House’, he set up a large rubber manufacturing works in the old woollen mills, and supplied springs and hoses to railways around the world. The Company ‘George Spencer Moulton & Co’ became a large stock quoted firm and later sold to the Avon Rubber Company in 1956.

    Sir Alex Moulton wanted to develop something for the automotive industry focusing on the design and development of rubber suspension for vehicles such as cars and trailers. He met British automobile designer Sir Alec Issigonis who created the Mini and the Morris Minor, this culminated in the development of his acclaimed suspension systems for the Mini, as well as the Austin Allegro, Princess, Metro and Ambassadors.

    The suspension technology still exists today on Moulton bicycles.

    Sir Alex unveiled the Moulton Bicycle at the Earls court bicycle show in 1962 and was overwhelmed by the reaction it received. Within a year Moulton Bicycles was the second largest bicycle manufacturer in the UK and its models were produced at a rate of 1200-1500 bicycles a week by 1963. Not only was the design revolutionary, the construction was also made much more like a car than with a traditional braised and lugged cycle. You would have to wait another 20 years to see other bicycles made in the same way.

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    Unique Design

    The Moulton Bicycle is the original full-suspension, separable, small- wheeled, high performance bicycle, world renowned for speed, efficiency, durability and comfort. Expertly engineered for over 50 years and handcrafted in England, these bicycles are the world’s most efficient form of transport – designed for universal use, real performance and comfort. Moulton bikes have won time trials, track events and road races and hold the unassisted land speed record of over 50mph.

    Thank you to Dan Farrell, GroupTechnical Director at Moulton Bicycles.Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.03

  • Moulton

    Alex_mini_stowawy_1963-4 Alex Moulton with Scala the dog

    Words by DAN FARRELL.

    When Alex Moulton launched his revolutionary small-wheeled, full-suspension bicycle at the Earls Court Cycle And Motor Cycle Show in 1962, he was very excited by the reaction of the public to his creation. David Duffield, then Moulton’s marketing manager, later commented that “we had to beat them off with sticks, such was the level of interest. We were completely overwhelmed”.

    What Alex can’t have imagined was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moulton bicycle. After all, he was 42 at the time of its launch, and he wouldn’t have foreseen the roaring success of the early models that soon lifted Moulton bicycles into second place (behind the great Raleigh Industries) among cycle manufacturers in Great Britain. Who would have predicted Raleigh’s response to the Moulton, the RSW 16, and the plethora of other small-wheeled cycles, such as Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh Twenty, etc, were all derived from the Moulton design?

    Less than five years after the launch, Moulton Bicycles Limited was sold to Raleigh, who continued manufacture for another seven years. Following the cessation of manufacture of the Moulton Mk III in 1974, it looked like the story of the Moulton bicycle was over. This proved to be premature, but it was to be another nine years before they were again available for the general public to purchase.

    Dubbed ‘the advanced engineering bicycle’, these new models – initially the AM7 and AM2 – were of radically different design to their forebears. They shared the same genealogy – small wheels, full-suspension - but the architecture was that of a three-dimensional space-frame girder. Diamond frame bicycles are triangulated vertically and are hence poor in lateral stiffness and harsh in ride. Moulton solved the problem of triangulating a bicycle frame in three dimensions, yet still being able to make it fit between the rider’s legs. The new Moulton bicycle was designed for high-performance and to be “a pleasure to own and use”, as Alex himself put it. It quickly won acclaim from cyclists and others – designers, engineers, architects. Today, an AM2 is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Moulton bicycle is regarded as one of the greatest works of British design.

    The first AM Jubilee bicycle was launched in 1987, and to mark this Silver anniversary, the Ferrari red frames were finished with silver coachlines. This bike shared many attributes of the AM14 and introduced the Moulton Wishbone adjustable handlebar stem. Original Jubilee and Jubilee L models (the ‘L’ indicating ‘light’ – these models having the lighter frame based on the AM-SPEED Race Across America project) remain in high demand in the collectors’ market and it is always pleasing to see a Jubilee still being used as the designer intended – for journeys long or short, on good roads or bad.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jubilee

    Jubilee

    With the Golden Jubilee in 2012, it seemed appropriate to return to the tenets of ‘the advanced engineering bicycle’ and ‘a pleasure to own and use’. The Moulton Jubilee introduced greater versatility in possible specification, together with detail improvements to improve durability and rigidity without increasing weight. Of more significance was a return to geometrical aesthetic that existed in early F-Frame Moulton bicycles and had fallen away over the years. Alex often maintained that aesthetics had no place in his work – admittedly, there are times when they did not – but he did admit that on ‘visible’ artefacts he was always concerned of how pleasing something was to the eye, and always sensitive to the emotional response of the user.

    With the Jubilee, the last project he had input into, it is fitting that this aesthetic returned, and appropriate that the limited-edition versions were painted in his favourite colour: Bugatti blue. Somewhat of a departure from the steely grey, so beloved of engineering designers, that adorned the original AM7 series.

    Of course, longevity is a Moulton characteristic. Most of the early AM7 bicycles are still in use – and nominally worth much more than they were 30 years ago. Moulton suspension systems are intrinsically designed to be durable, and are largely field-maintainable should the need arise, be it in London or Lagos. Such is its commitment to its products, The Moulton Bicycle Company is proud to be able to supply just about every spare part, or offer a suitable alternative for
    all Moultons manufactured since 1983.

     

    MOULTON Logo_2

    Small wheels, big performance

    Small wheels yet a big performance… that’s just a part of the appeal behind the Mouton TSR range of bikes, each a hymn to urban dreams.

    Engineered for over 50 years and handcrafted in Britain, the Moulton bike is the original full suspension, separable, small-wheeled high performance machine… world revered for its efficiency, durability, comfort and speed.

    TSR2 TSR 2

    TSR 2
    This bike revels in the beauty of simplicity. Its beating heart is a Sturmey-Archer ‘kick shift’ two-speed gear with an integrated back pedal brake plus belt drive. Two well-spaced ratios will keep you weaving between commuters on this feisty collectable.

    TSR 8 TSR 8

    TSR 8
    Versatility is the name of the game here. This classic machine is at ease both on countryside lanes and the mean streets of the city. The secret weapons here are wide ratio gears and all-purpose tyres, while Sturmey-Archer gears provide easy shifting, even when stationary. The TSR 8 also boasts a wider gear range than the TSR 9.

    TSR 9 TSR 9

    TSR 9
    Sharing its gene pool with the TSR 27, the TSR 9 is, in fact, a lighter but equally versatile machine that will have heads and wheels spinning thanks to its adoption of all the defining Moulton features. Delicate of frame yet strong, here is one bike that can handle
    all but the steepest of trails.

    TSR 30 TSR 30

    TSR 30
    If fast road commuting, touring or day rides are your sort of thing, then the TSR 30 is your sort of bike. Ride hell for leather through the urban environment, or load up and head wherever the trail takes you.

    TSR 27 TSR 27


    TSR 27
    At times you might want to leave the concrete jungle behind and experience a variety of terrains. The Moulton TSR 27 is one bike that gives you that option – and in comfort too.
    So say ‘tah, tah’ to the tarmac and enjoy this true go-anywhere bicycle that combines
    grace with gumption.

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