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Topic: 1967 Hercules Sports Model

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1967 Hercules Sports Model

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It all began with a Black '67 Hercules.

I wandered into Song Seng Chan, the old bike shop on Joo Chiat Road and asked if they had any old bicycles - those with the full chain covers and with the tail-end of the rear mudguards painted white.

“The gentleman I spoke with - Ah Teck - said they had only a few old 28" wheeled roadsters left. Too big for me, as he gave me the once over, to assess my height, I suppose. Crestfallen, I was about the turn away when he hesitated, as if something suddenly jogged his memory, then said, "Wait, I think I may have one 26" wheeled Hercules left - or was that a Robin Hood?" He asks an older gentleman if there was one. They weren't sure what it was, but they may have one in the store. "Are you keen?" "Yes!" I replied, "may I view it?" He told me to return the next day.”

When I returned the next day, I laid eyes on a piece of history that I didn't imagine would change my life. I was in love. She was preserved in the storeroom of the venerable old bicycle shop, one that has been in operation for over 70 years. The brown paper was still wrapped around its frame, secured by raffia string. Packing foam and plastic wrap was added at some point. The gentleman explained that it was kept for about 40 years, and all parts were kept together as a set. Mummified and forgotten.

The rims were beautiful chromed 26 1-3/8" Rigidas from France, tires were Cheng Shins (they didn't have any other brands). Everything thing else was original from Nottingham. The proprietor of the shop, Mr. Loh said to me, "Let me show you something," as he proudly peeled off some of the foam to reveal a yellow transfer depicting Sir Walter Raleigh laying his coat on the ground. "You see, original Raleigh!" He said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. After agreeing on a price, he asked if I wanted to add a 'speed', explaining that he meant a Sturmey Archer 3-speed geared hub. I figured I might as well do so and agreed. I asked him for a dynamo lamp set as well, for good measure.

I returned the next day to see Ah Teck proudly wheel out a piece of history - as he presented the Hercules to me, he stood back and smiled at my stunned expression as we marvelled at a completed masterpiece. It couldn't be described any other way. You can tell when a master craftsman has pride in his work. Passers-by stopped and admired the grand old dame, and we seemed to have entered a time warp.

My memories came flooding back. Of Mom taking me out to the market. Sitting in noisy old Leyland buses. The rain pouring down, its smell mixed with the smell of waxed paper umbrellas and people clickety-clacking about in their red wooden clogs. An old man cycling past on a black gents bike, its cotton tail catching my attention...

He tells me this is the very last piece of a final shipment. She arrived in Singapore sometime in the early 1970s, one of 25 in a wooden crate. This shipment resulted from a special, desperate last order of gents bicycles from England. Nottingham had decreed that imports of English-made bikes were to cease, to prepare for when the Raleigh factory in Selangor Malaysia - then being set up - would produce bicycles. The factory wasn't ready when the last such bicycles were sold out and the shops came under pressure by customers who had no such bicycles to buy.

If the whole experience of buying a 40-year old time-warp bicycle wasn't magical enough, the icing on the cake was when I made payment, and Mr Loh produced a old-fashioned receipt with his shop's name and logo printed on it. He then wrote the price in beautiful long hand and handed it to me with both hands. What style! 

The serial numbers on this Hercules indicate manufacture in 1967, in Handsworth, Birmingham, for Raleigh Industries. If my analysis is accurate, these framesets were already old stock when shipped out!

I rest my behind on the old Raleigh B66 - a Malaysian-made piece that I subsequently replaced with a Brooks saddle - and I feel right at home. I've always wanted a bicycle just like the one I remember from my childhood. I've finally found her. On my Hercules, I cycle into the fog of time. Each journey a journey back to a bygone era. 

 



-- Edited by ketchup on Tuesday 20th of August 2013 11:01:12 PM

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The only thing that matches your Hercules is the great narrative it was wrapped in.

Congratulations.

You deserve her.



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Thank you. I hope more of us will share stories of our bikes and wonderful people behind them. Like the Lohs and their family business. Their business may have ceased, but our memories of them won't.

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shy
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I really enjoy your write up as well as the images. Thanks for sharing!

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Great find! Congrads!



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Experience Vintage... Love Vintage...

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Every bicycle tells a story, that's way we appreciated these so much. Thanks for sharing.



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Healthy mind in a healthy body...

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