From the archive: 1950s Claud Butler gets ready to leave the Clapham factory
A young mechanic puts the finishing touches to this gleaming, handmade steel 'lightweight'
A young mechanic puts the finishing touches to a Claud Butler bicycle at the company’s Clapham Manor Street works.
The 1950s is in full swing, as you can tell by his voluminous quiff, but this was a period when Claud Butler was still a marque for the serious cyclist: pictures of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali rather than Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent adorn the factory walls.
The ‘lightweight’ itself is the sort of machine that the post-war cyclist would have used for all disciplines from clubruns to time trials to touring and riding to work.
With its fancy lugs it will have been one of the higher-end CB models. Although fillet brazing required more skill, it was still cheaper than the cost of a lugset.
Behind the scenes, however, Claud Butler was already in financial difficulties and the name was sold in 1957, marking the end of the brand’s three decades at the top of the cycle industry.
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Simon Smythe is a hugely experienced cycling tech writer, who has been writing for Cycling Weekly since 2003. Until recently he was our senior tech writer. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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