Tagged: 1956

Rudge “Ulster Sports” c.1957

With the long, dark winter nights during in, I feel it’s a perfect time to share some of the bikes that have been bought and stored for a future build. Along with the frame I used in the Kerry’s build, came this frame and three others. This frame looks the worst in terms of it’s visual appeal but after a bit of research I think it’s possibly the most interesting.

Looking purely at the frame you can see it has a bit of history. The paint looks to be brown but in some places you can find a vivid red. You’ll see the serial number carved in to the seat tube which generally tells me it’s an early frame (Pre 1960). The chrome that remains is rusted and shows a life lived in the elements. The transfers that remain are the biggest clue to this bikes identity though. Along the down tube there is the shadow of a transfer reading Ulster Sports but if you look around you’ll see the Rudge badge on the forks and the Raleigh tubing label on the seat tube. The head badge is long gone and all the components have been stripped but the identity of the frame remains.

Looking through the Veteran Cycle Club library I came across the 1957 catalogue, here it is, the Rudge “Ulster Sports” in the vibrant red the frame should be showing.

The catalogue shows the men’s model but scrolling through I find a table at the bottom which shows the correct equipment for the ladies.

26″ x 1 1/4″ Rims
Fixed / Freewheel gearing OR if you’ve got the extra money, a 3 Speed Sturmey Archer gearing.
3 1/2″ Rubber Pedals
All Rounder Handlebars with an adjustable stem
Caliper Brakes with hooded levers
White Celluloid Mudguards
Brooks B72L Saddle
Royal Carmine Finish (For this particular bike)
Kitbag, Tools, Inflator, Reflector & Fork lamp bracket as accessories.

Certainly a nice list of parts to find but for an extra helping hand the VCC has the spare parts brochure which gives an exploded diagram for the bike.

I love to see the detail like this. It makes tracking down the correct parts a lot easier. The original brochures are a massive help by themselves but they often lack the detail needed to pinpoint an exact model of part. I’ll have fun hunting down the long list of parts.

Now for a bit of history of the company. Rudge-Whitworth was founded in 1894 from a merger between Whitworth Cycle Company of Birmingham and the Rudge Cycle Company of Coventry. They produced Bicycles, Saddles, Motorcycles and Wheels. In 1938 they sponsored Billie Fleming for the World Record attempt of most miles covered on a bicycle in a year. She cycled 29,603.7 miles in that year and the record stood until her death (aged 100) in 2014! Raleigh bought Rudge in 1943 and after this point Rudge badged bicycles were essentially Raleigh models using familiar Rudge components (crown and chain wheel). The Rudge name was killed off sometime in the early 60’s.

I’d class this build as a bit of a back burner. I’d like to put some time into finding the right parts and restoring the bike to it’s original 50’s glory. The hardest, and probably the most expensive parts to find will be the rims. I’ll have a good look but it may be easier to convert to the more “popular” 26″ x 1 3/8″. There are Rudge spares floating around on eBay, whether they match this build or not, I’m not sure but I’ll investigate further. So there we go, another build to go parts hunting for.