Much better heron v ravenous beastie graphic

When I did this story on an Indian cyclist beating off a ravenous tiger with his trusty bicycle I used a Googled pic from a 1930s ad campaign by Raleigh Africa. This featured a smiling African guy outpacing a lion.

I love these old bike ads. They’re so evocative of why cycling is so great. Well, perhaps besting a chasing predator is not exactly why most people get into cycling but many of the 19th and early 20th Century bicycle ad posters were classics.

In fact, many are genuine ‘works of art’ as they were produced by masters such as the much parodied midget artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If there’s a demand for such imagery (get commenting below!) I’ll do some scans of the great cycling posters.

In the meantime here’s a poster from Raleigh India which, had I realised I had it last week, would have been a better illustration on the ‘man fights off tiger’ story:


I’ve got tons of archive stuff from the early days of cycling. I’m not a collector as such, it’s just that I’ve been the editor of UK bike trade mags for nigh on twenty years and I’ve acquired bike history bits and bobs along the way. The tiger pic is from a Raleigh Centenary calendar produced in 1987. I’ve also got bound copies of bike trade mags going way back when and daft stuff like Sturmey Archer tankards.

When the famous British company went pop in 2000 I was in at the death throes, reporting on the American business guru who sold the company down the river. These stories – 37 of them! – were carried on a primitive version of BikeBiz.com, often almost in real-time. I vividly remember attending a stormy creditors meeting and then reporting on it seconds afterwards by dictating to a colleague over the phone.

At the time, this sorry saga looked like a typical British industry disaster. As it turned out, Sturmey was bought by Sun-Race of Taiwan and now the product line-up is immensely strong and – shock, horror – the quality control has never been better.

Outpacing a predator on a hub-geared bike would now be so much easier thanks to superior Taiwanese engineering tolerances.