The All Chrome Rudge Sports, Model #122
The quintessential old British bicycle found in the USA is a Raleigh Industries three speed bicycle that is heavy, geared too high, indestructible and almost always black. Among the many old black three speeds that one can still find in major US cities like Boston, San Francisco or New York, once in a while one can find in another color such as burgundy, dark green, or in later models: red, blue or gold. The all chrome Sports model on the other hand is a rare bird and a bit of a mystery as there is no documentation in the known Raleigh/Rudge literature that such a model was produced.
The all chrome model is very close in style and construction to the ordinary Sports model. There are two main but subtle differences. One is the in the indents added to the underside of the lugs. The function of these indents is presumably to hold together the lugged frame during the chrome plating process. The other difference is in the design of the mudguard stays. The typical Sports has one piece steel bands that pass from one braze-on near the wheel axle to the underside of the mudguard and over to the other braze-on on the other side of the frame. The chrome model has a different system that uses alloy stays that attach to the braze-on on the frame and then to a short welded piece attached to the mudguard. This is the same system as used on higher end models such as the Clubman.
I have now documented three different examples of the chrome Rudge Sports. All appear to have identical specifications as far as components; all date to 1961; all have 21” frames; all have the slight differences from the normal Rudge Sports in the mudguard stays and the lug indents as described above. This suggests that a one-time run of this model was made and distributed at least if not exclusively to the USA. No examples from the UK have yet been reported.
From the original example below we learn that the bicycle was offered for sale in the Bronx during the same month stamped on the rear SA hub. This is perhaps unusual for a bike to reach a point of sale so soon after being manufactured and assembled in Nottingham.
The purpose of the production of this model is still not documented. We learn from the correspondence below that the all chrome model was the only one in the shop and that it was marked up in price over the typical black and burgundy models. It has been rumored that the model was offered as a gift to bicycle shops for good sales and therefore not meant for sale to the general public. We cannot yet support or refute this story.
Here we present a well-preserved example of an all-chrome Rudge Sports with original documentation from the original owner. The documentation provides a record of the original sale as well as subsequent additions and modifications to the bike as it appears today.
All the original transfers are intact:
From the original owner:
‘The bike was purchased at a cycle shop. Eddies bicycles, 2128 Jerome Ave. the Bronx. It was the only one they had and it was about a 50% premium over a burgundy or black one. We did not have much money but my Dad (who was a racer at one point) liked the idea of durability. I put a lot of miles on the bike and the tires were replaced in 1966. I was 10 when I got it in 61…’
Documents from the original purchase: March 21, 1961
Documentation of VDO (made in Germany) speedometer installation: March 19, 1962
Documentation of new tyre purchase: August 13, 1966