Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bike building

A bit of sanding, polishing and painting has been taking place recently at Langsett Towers, and the result looks like this:

This old Carlton was made in Worksop, one of the unlikely stars in the bike building universe. It is a bike which I very definitely Should Not Have Bought. Carlton spent years building incredible, dazzling bikes painted the most amazing colours which must have looked all the more incredible in post war Britain, a country which The Langsett (Sr) tells me was actually beige. Pop your sunglasses on and have a look at the beautiful Carltons on Classic Lightweights and you'll see what I mean.

Then, towards the back end of the 1970's, Carlton produced the charmless, pillarbox red Grand Prix and garnished it with some dodgy, faux Art Deco decals. My own particular Grand Prix came from a beautiful bit of Shropshire, tucked away behind Birmingham. It had had every possible kind of abuse inflicted on it. As a result it was a scratched, faded pink, rusty, bent, battered cycling disaster area. I responded to its terrifying air of neglect by hiding it in the back of the cellar.

Eventually I buckled down to the job of getting it working and looking a bit better again.

Then I stopped. Then I started - and then stopped - again. In fact, totting it up on my fingers, I think I did this for about three years. Until last night, when I stood back and realised the Carlton was a working bike again.

Even with a new coat of paint, the Carlton's no racing rarity. But seeing it in the evening sunlight reminded me that even humble bikes have their moments.

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