WW2 RAF Bicycle

WW2 RAF Bicycle

Joined: April 28th, 2003, 11:07 pm

March 15th, 2004, 7:02 pm #1

Hi boys & gals,
Anyone know anything about WW2 RAF bicycles?
I just got one - bit of a surprise actually, as I thought it was just an 'old' bike, but on further inspection & while cleaning it, I revealed it's WW2 RAF serial No:- "RAF-424237"
Now I must be the HAPPIEST RAF Living History bod in the entire world!!
What's the chances of THAT happening then??

What I am now particularly interested in is finding out more about service bikes, any markings they would have worn & most of all, who was 424237 issued to?
Over to the experts...
Best wishes
Ian
57 RESCUE

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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 10:21 pm

March 15th, 2004, 10:54 pm #2

Hello Ian, oddly enough I discovered mine had the serial number of a Hurricane on it!!!!!!
How bizarre!
Martin is pretty good on Bicycles aren't you Prune dear.....
Kate
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Joined: April 28th, 2003, 11:07 pm

March 16th, 2004, 9:32 pm #3

Hi,
Thanks kate (Hurri serial No, how odd!?)

"M A R T I N!" (he shouts aloud!)
Can you shed any light on the bicycle dilemma?
Ian
57 RESCUE
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Joined: December 17th, 2003, 10:09 pm

March 16th, 2004, 10:29 pm #4

I will try to shed some light on the matter!
First of all, i am no expert, I just fiddle around with wartime bikes every now and then, and am the happy owner of a british Heavy Duty Bycicle from 1943, and a pre 1940 civil bike with three speed hub.
This is the first major issue: to my knowledge the Army is the only part of the armed forces that had bycicles officially made for this purpose, by contract. During WW2 these were known as Mark IV and V "Heavy Duty" bycicles, and of course the ever-boring (ehm, sorry, popular...) Airborne / Para / Folding Bylcicle. As the Air Ministry in general did not worry about the distance pilots and airmen had to cover from their sleeping quarters to the mess, there was no need for any contracts.
The airforce simply used what ever they could lay their hands on, and tended to add these to their inventory by simply painting the squadron code, aircraft serial, etc. on it. Roundels or squadron colours were also to be found on either front or rear of the bike. The bikes themselves were often simply privatly owned ones.
By the looks of it your bycicle is indeed pre-war, though it is very hard to determine precisely. A good clue often is the rear hub. There should be a maker on it (probably Sturmey-Archer) with a date or type (by which a date can be determined). The number of spokes on a wheel is also a major give away, and i can see by the size that the tires are probably originals or at least old ones too.
By the way, talking about the rear hub, i once heard a very funny story about RAF bikes. Because they were left standing out in the cold, the grease in the hubs would often freeze up during cold winter nights. To solve this problem, airmen simply pissed (excuse my French) over the hub first before they took off for the mess.....
Hope this helps,

Martin
(aka Prune, thank you dear...)
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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 10:21 pm

March 17th, 2004, 6:41 pm #5

See I told you so!
mine of information that boy....
Kate x
(but he has much longer legs than me which is why I fell off his bike in holland!!! Hey Prune you off to Ghent? I'm coming along with Paul Harper)
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Joined: April 28th, 2003, 11:07 pm

March 18th, 2004, 10:56 pm #6

I will try to shed some light on the matter!
First of all, i am no expert, I just fiddle around with wartime bikes every now and then, and am the happy owner of a british Heavy Duty Bycicle from 1943, and a pre 1940 civil bike with three speed hub.
This is the first major issue: to my knowledge the Army is the only part of the armed forces that had bycicles officially made for this purpose, by contract. During WW2 these were known as Mark IV and V "Heavy Duty" bycicles, and of course the ever-boring (ehm, sorry, popular...) Airborne / Para / Folding Bylcicle. As the Air Ministry in general did not worry about the distance pilots and airmen had to cover from their sleeping quarters to the mess, there was no need for any contracts.
The airforce simply used what ever they could lay their hands on, and tended to add these to their inventory by simply painting the squadron code, aircraft serial, etc. on it. Roundels or squadron colours were also to be found on either front or rear of the bike. The bikes themselves were often simply privatly owned ones.
By the looks of it your bycicle is indeed pre-war, though it is very hard to determine precisely. A good clue often is the rear hub. There should be a maker on it (probably Sturmey-Archer) with a date or type (by which a date can be determined). The number of spokes on a wheel is also a major give away, and i can see by the size that the tires are probably originals or at least old ones too.
By the way, talking about the rear hub, i once heard a very funny story about RAF bikes. Because they were left standing out in the cold, the grease in the hubs would often freeze up during cold winter nights. To solve this problem, airmen simply pissed (excuse my French) over the hub first before they took off for the mess.....
Hope this helps,

Martin
(aka Prune, thank you dear...)
Hi M (or is it "Prune"?)
Looked at the new (old) toy, and after scraping off years of old grease & muck around the rear hub, all I could see - apart from the oil filler, was MADE IN ENGLAND stamped into it.
Apart from that, there are 40 spokes on the back wheel, tyres are very old but still useable and the only other marks I could find were the RAF numbers mentioned earlier.
You got me going though - what sort of unit markings would show up on one of these beasts? I would like to indicate this bike belonged to either a 4 or 6 (RCAF) group bomber station, but I have no idea what the markings (if any) might be... Back to the experts.
Ian
57 RESCUE
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Joined: May 8th, 2003, 5:49 pm

March 18th, 2004, 11:05 pm #7

Check out this link:

http://www.yellowjersey.org/EASTMAN.HTML

From Bill Chambers on the U.K. Reenactors Yahoo Group...

"For those of you that are interested in getting a "correct bicycle" for your impression, here is what the average Tommy would be driving around town or on the base. These are pretty spot on repros out of India, and
from the folks that are hardcore British steel fans, these are pretty good quality. Indian bicycle shops worship the old makers, like Raliegh, Phillips and such. These even come with the correct valve stems
for the 1940s and before. There are other ones out there that are made in the classic look, this one is a verbatim copy. You would want the single speed. These have rod brakes, not the post war raliegh versions
with the cable brakes. Not only can you use it at shows, but you can actually use it around town. They only part I have not checked on is whether the stickers come on them already, or they would need to be
removed."

I contacted them... stickers come off with a hair dryer. Probably can have them assemble w/o the chain guard too. Throw some blackout markings on the fender and off to the mess!
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Joined: October 20th, 2003, 10:21 pm

March 18th, 2004, 11:10 pm #8

Het Hux, what do you call those fantastic bikes over in the states that they made in the 30s 40s and 50s....they have very curvy frames and whitewall tyres. I'd love one!!!! I keep scanning E-bay uk for one!
Can you help with the name.
cheers
(ps mailed you those pics again)
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Joined: May 8th, 2003, 5:49 pm

March 18th, 2004, 11:27 pm #9

Any green beer yesterday?

Schwinn? Actually the style is now called "cruiser" and there are repros being made. Everybody made one in the old days though, Columbia, Raleigh, Schwinn, Western Flyer, FIrestone, etc... but I'm no expert mind you.

The new repros really capture the look though.

Search under cruiser bicycle or beach cruiser, etc...

Huxley

P.S. Still looking for those pics... thanks m'dear!
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Joined: December 17th, 2003, 10:09 pm

March 22nd, 2004, 10:21 pm #10

Hi M (or is it "Prune"?)
Looked at the new (old) toy, and after scraping off years of old grease & muck around the rear hub, all I could see - apart from the oil filler, was MADE IN ENGLAND stamped into it.
Apart from that, there are 40 spokes on the back wheel, tyres are very old but still useable and the only other marks I could find were the RAF numbers mentioned earlier.
You got me going though - what sort of unit markings would show up on one of these beasts? I would like to indicate this bike belonged to either a 4 or 6 (RCAF) group bomber station, but I have no idea what the markings (if any) might be... Back to the experts.
Ian
57 RESCUE
Hi Ian,

i will listen to both actually. I believe it was our darling Katie who gave me the name Prune some years ago, and as far as i can remember, it had something to do with me allways wearing a scarf, not being either white or polka-dot...
The markings; your guess is as good as mine! It seems likely though that, because every plane normaly had it´s own air- and groundcrew, the serialnumber would be used on the bike as well.
In addition to the roundel, another version is a blue-white-red band on the front steering tube.
I often wondered why not more people get a bike, as these are not only very typical for the period, and rather neglected, but also very handy !
Go ahead, enjoy the machine, and i would not worry too much about the markings. As i am certainly no expert on numbers (if i was, i would have found myselve a nice job as librarian...) I can not help you out on what aircraft this one belonged though. However, if you do come across it, this will make dating it a lot easier!
Cheers,

Prune.
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