Monday, March 19, 2018

NIMROD Tests: Lightweight Cycle & Component Reviews from "Cycling" Magazine 1920s-1960s




Cycling Weekly, which was first published on 24 January 1891, and continues to this day, is the oldest of major journals devoted to cycling... the pursuit, the sport, the cycles and the industry... in the English language. Through its pages over the years, the cycle historian and collector can appreciate the sport, its machines, equipment, riders and competition in a uniquely comprehensive and contemporary fashion over a few months, years or era. As such, it is an invaluable resource. And no more so than its regular reviews by "Nimrod" of lightweight cycles and components during what can be considered a Golden Era for British cycles and cycle sport, the 1920s to the 1960s, when the British cycle industry was the largest in the world and led it in innovation, design and quality.  

"Nimrod" imbued his reviews with a characterful and delightful flavour as well as a comprehensive appraisal, from a cyclist's perspective, of a machine's qualities, quirks, delights and occasional disappointments. Few reviewers could capture in words the almost human-like characteristics of a cycle's ride and handling that could be variously described as "nippy", "lively" and "sure footed".  Moreover, all the reviews featured an indispensable full specification and component list and a good photograph(s), often a far better presentation than in many of the early manufacture catalogues, and all invaluable today to the collector and restorer. 


Who was "Nimrod"? The real identity of the Cycling reviewer is elusive. Indeed, was "Nimrod" the same man during the long run of the reviews which span some 42 years (1922-1964 at least)? He didn't like having his photo taken, either, and the above shows one of the few times "Nimrod" figures in a photo, presuming it is the reviewer, from his 12 May 1937 review of the Grubb "Silver Flash", but with his back to the camera. 

These reviews were a major feature of the magazine and while no means complete, this compilation is designed to assemble for the first time as many of these articles as possible.

Sadly, there is no comprehensive on-line library of Cycling back issues.  But the Veteran Cycle Club in Britain has finally begin to fill the gap with a growing collection on their wonderful on-line library covering, so far, 1946-49, and individual collectors have posted some of their issues and "Nimrod" reviews. To them, our collective appreciation is due for their is no single better resource for research and enjoyment of a unique period in British technology and sport. The the material presented here is entirely due to their generosity and hard work to share it with others. 

Additions are welcome and scans can be sent direct to the author at kohl57@starpower.net

The Collection (as of 19 March 2018, later additions will be in italics):

James "Ace of Clubs" 4 May 1922
Armstrong "Moth" 13 December 1929
F.H. Grubb "Special Touring" 12 December 1930
F.W. Evans "Luxlyt" 6 March 1931
James "Arrow Ace" 15 January 1932
Raleigh "Record Ace" 25 November 1936
F.H. Grubb "Silver Flash" 12 May 1937
Rudge-Whitworth "Aero Special" 9 June 1937
James "Ace Tourist" 7 July 1937
Raleigh "Special Club" 19 January 1938
Sturmey-Archer "Dyno-Hub" 16 March 1938
Royal-Enfield "Firefly" 23 March 1938
Carlton "Python" 6 April 1938
Sturmey-Archer AM Hub 20 April 1938
Royal Enfield "T.3" 7 September 1938
Baines "International TT" 5 October 1938
Raleigh "Charles Holland Continental" 14 October 1938
Royal Enfield "Continental" 7 December 1938
Armstrong "Highway" 11 January 1939
Sturmey-Archer FM Hub 8 November 1939
"Compiling a Specification" 11 September 1946
Claud Butler "Avant Coureur" 8 October 1947
Thanet "Silverlight" 14 April 1948
James "Olympic Ace" 6 October 1948
B.S.A. "Gold Star" 2 February 1949
Bates "Vendomes" 30 March 1949
Hobbs "Sportsweight" 15 September 1949
Sun "Manxman" 17 August 1955
Carlton "Connaught" 14 September 1955
Hopper Vampire "Convincable" 1 February 1956
Hercules "Tour de France Equipe" 19 April 1956
Raleigh "RRA Moderne" 25 October 1956
Jack Taylor "Super Tourist" 16 March 1960
Cinelli "Super Corsa" 22 February 1961
Jack Taylor "Sports" 20 June 1962
Carlton "Criterium" 4 July 1962
Condor "Italia" 11 July 1962
Jack Taylor "Super Clubman" 8 August 1962
F.H. Grubb "Super Nova" 24 October 1962
Carlton "Franco-Suisse" 1 January 1964







JAMES "ACE OF CLUBS"
4 MAY 1922




Credit: Cycling, from the V-CC on-line library.






ARMSTRONG "MOTH"
13 DECEMBER 1929




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






GRUBB "SPECIAL TOURING"
12 DECEMBER 1930




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






F.W. EVANS "LUXLYT"
6 MARCH 1931




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library







JAMES "ARROW ACE"
15 JANUARY 1932







Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






RALEIGH "RECORD ACE" 
25 NOVEMBER 1936






Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain







F.H. GRUBB "SILVER FLASH"
12 MAY 1937




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.







RUDGE-WHITWORTH "AERO SPECIAL"
9 JUNE 1937




Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain





JAMES "ACE TOURIST"
7 JULY 1937






Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






RALEIGH "SPECIAL CLUB" 
19 JANUARY 1938





Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain







STURMEY-ARCHER "DYNO-HUB"
16 MARCH 1938





Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain






ROYAL ENFIELD "FIREFLY"
23 MARCH 1938




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






THE CARLTON "PYTHON"
6 APRIL 1938



Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






STURMEY-ARCHER AM HUB
20 APRIL 1938 

Credit: Cycling, from Sturmey-Archer Heritage.com





ROYAL ENFIELD "T.3"
7 SEPTEMBER 1938



Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






BAINES "INTERNATIONAL TT"
5 OCTOBER 1938




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.





RALEIGH "CHARLES HOLLAND CONTINENTAL"
14 OCTOBER 1938






Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain







ROYAL ENFIELD "CONTINENTAL"
7 DECEMBER 1938





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library




ARMSTRONG "HIGHWAY"
11 JANUARY 1939




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library






STURMEY-ARCHER FM FOUR-SPEED HUB
8 NOVEMBER 1939



Credit: Cycling, courtesy Peter Jourdain






COMPILING A SPECIFICATION
11 SEPTEMBER 1946







Credit: Cycling, from the V-CC on-line library













CLAUD BUTLER "AVANT COUREUR
8 OCTOBER 1947







Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library







THE THANET "SILVERLIGHT"
14 APRIL 1948







Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






THE JAMES "OLYMPIC ACE"
6 OCTOBER 1948





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






THE B.S.A. "GOLD STAR"
2 FEBRUARY 1949





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.







THE BATES "VENDOMES"
30 MARCH 1949





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.







THE HOBBS "SPORTSWEIGHT"
15 SEPTEMBER 1949





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






SUN "MANXMAN"
17 AUGUST 1955




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






CARLTON "CONNAUGHT"
15 SEPTEMBER 1955




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






HOPPER VAMPIRE "CONVINCABLE"
1 FEBRUARY 1956


Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.





HERCULES "TOUR DE FRANCE EQUIPE"
19 APRIL 1956




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.





RALEIGH "RRA MODERNE"
25 OCTOBER 1956




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library







JACK TAYLOR "SUPER TOURIST"
16 MARCH 1960





Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library






CINELLI "SUPER CORSA"
22 FEBRUARY 1961




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






JACK TAYLOR "SPORTS
20 JUNE 1962



Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






CARLTON "CRITERIUM"
4 JULY 1962




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






CONDOR "ITALIA"
11 JULY 1962




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.






JACK TAYLOR "SUPER CLUBMAN"
8 AUGUST 1962




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-library






F.H. GRUBB "SUPER NOVA"
24 OCTOBER 1962




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.





CARLTON "FRANCO-SUISSE"
1 JANUARY 1964




Credit: Cycling, from V-CC on-line library.