(Login NA337) Forum Member from IP address 220.127.116.11
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...
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,
See I told you so!
mine of information that boy....
(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)
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.
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
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!
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.
(ps mailed you those pics again)
Huxley (Login huxley602) Forum Member 18.104.22.168
March 18 2004, 6:27 PM
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...
P.S. Still looking for those pics... thanks m'dear!
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!
Was doing my search on military bicycles on the web and found Ian's post. But, can't seem to find the photo. Any chance of having it sent to me? I am also currently trying to get my RAF issue Hopper over to the states. When I get it, I will let you all know more about it. It is coming through a good mate there. He has documents on it. All I find I will pass on to you RAF types.
I can say that there were two major efforts within the RAF on transport. Wait to get what is issued, "borrow" what you can sooner. If doing a RAF impression, just about any bicycle from 1944 backwards would work. Even officers make reference to them. You can find real ones on ebay and spotted around the net. Or, the repos from india are nice. But, I am leaning towards waiting for a real one. I have several Army ones and love them.
oh, the average RAF bicycle was kept in a common rack outside the enlisted barracks. Seems you just grabbed one and went either to a alarm or the pub. Officers were kept by the Officer (usually suppling his own) and I would bet that they did not paint them squadron colors, as there is a big difference between a gentleman's bicycle and a lowely airman.
Chris Kanca (Premier Login AOC553) Forum Owner 22.214.171.124
April 14 2004, 2:19 PM
Was curious if the photo might be later than 1939? The Spit is interesting -- particularly the half-white, half-black underside. Also noted the 3-bladed prop and armoured windscreen -- indicative of later versions of the Mk I.
Intersting bycicle! Notice the gear change lever on the horizontal bar.
This is exactly as on the bike i am currently restoring. It is (probably) a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub, introduced in the early thirties. Great litle things!
You can clearly see that there are no specific markings by th way, and the colour is probably standard A-Ford: black.
Here's my bike as was posted previously (I'm afraid there's a time bar on photo's displayed on the Network 54 forums - Chris may correct me, but I think they allow a week, maybe more (?) time before they take the photo down.
The only difference to this (as obtained) photo and now is that a) The mudguards have the white painted rear ends. b) It now sports "B FLIGHT" and the Serial Number of RAF123456 (can't remember the correct numbers - I'm here and the bike is in the garage!) and finally c) It now has the uncanny ability to STOP!
PS - Just tried to upload the photo & all I got was this bizarre and continuous error message!
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