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2012年7月 1日 (日)

Why the 1950's (Part 10)

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。038
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(Photos courtesy of Classical Bicycle Fan, thanks Tommy!)

As mentioned in Part 6, in the second half of this series we will focus on the practical aspects of why bicycles from the 1950's are truly exceptional.  With automobiles out of reach for the vast majority of households, the emphasis on bicycles was that they be good reliable transportation. Not flashy, not lightweight, not super fast, not high-tech, just plain simple solid dependable transportation. Thus, bicycles from the 1950s were rugged, practical, easy to maintain, comfortable and when viewed up close crafted works of art. 

In this post we will look at Crafted Works of Art.

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Look at this chaincase.  Ever see anything like this before?
Back is steel and front is clear celluloid.
You can even see the ornate chain-wheel (closeup below) through the clear celluloid.
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Three coat black enamel paint with gold lettering accented with real chrome plated parts. 
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In order to address this properly it is necessary to recap.  As noted in the first half of this series (Part 1) following the war, munition plants were converted to peacetime production.  So precision tooling for parts was in place, but, as noted in (Part 2) it took a decade (1953-63) for industrial standards to fully spread through the entire bicycle industry. This coupled with lack of automation (Part 3) meant that bicycles were still to some degree crafted and largely built by hand.  The influx of companies converted from munitions to bicycle manufacturing (Part 4) meant that talented munition engineers and skill labor force now focused on bicycles and this coupled with demand fueled a highly competitive industry. With fierce competition, manufacturers went to great lengths to prove to the customer that indeed all parts were genuine "brand" parts.  The company name or logo appears on nearly each and every part, often more than once. In fact a manufacturer's name or logo appears over 100 times on a single bicycle. (See Company Logos & Markings (Part 1), (Part 2) , (Part 3) , (Part 4) and (Part 5)  )

Allow me to direct your attention to two videos which will illustrate many items not found on todays bicycles.


They Don't Make Them Like They Used To (Part 1).


They Don't Make Them Like They Used To (Part 2)

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