…..welcome to this website dedicated to 50 years of bike building by Henry and Frank Carpenter. If you have anything to add, just get in touch! petersbed(at)aol.com

** SPECIAL NOTICE ** Next Carpenter marque ride will be August 12 – save the day, let me know if you are interested & I’ll post details to you ūüôā

ariel.bicyclesIn 1872, when Henry Carpenter was born, ‘Penny-Farthing’ bicycles were playthings of the rich, the Ferraris of their day. Then they were swept aside by the ¬†diamond-framed ¬†‘Safety’ cycles we know today. These¬†affordable bikes triggered a social revolution. Britain led the world in an explosive growth of cycle making; mass market producers flourished, hundreds of small artisan workshops custom-built lightweight race bikes to order.


Fast forward 100 years….

boardman barcelona 92 compBy the 1970’s Henry’s son Frank Carpenter had retired, cars had displaced bikes as a means of transport, public interest had ebbed away, the industry was in the doldrums. Frank lived to 1990, almost long enough to see Chris Boardman’s game-changing Olympic win. ¬†All was set for a resurgence of cycling as a recreation and a sport; but not a ¬†revival that could support the army of craftsmen¬†that built specialist race bikes. Carbon fibre wheels, components and finally frames sealed the fate¬†of the steel framed bike; its¬†long reign was over.

With wheel carriers compHenry and Frank Carpenter, father and son, were not simply bystanders through this era, they were specialist master craftsmen of  lightweight cycles. From the early 1920s until the late 1960s they hand-built over 5000 racing bikes, the choice of many leading riders and champions of their day. Their  meticulous workmanship secured an envied reputation for the Carpenter marque.

This website draws together information about their business, the bikes and their riders, setting them in the context of their time. The ‘Carpenter’ story illustrates the steady development – and eventual demise – of British built race bikes. The Carpenter business spanned a whole chapter of technological, manufacturing and social development.

Any text that is in red is hyperlinked to further information or pictures, elsewhere in the site or on other websites.  Click for more! (Then delete the new tab to return to where you were). If you would like to add more information, or comment on what you see, feel free to contact us on petersbed (at) aol.com

Last Updates:

  • 13/02/2018 Lots of new info on the early days of Festival Road Club from David Lidyard and Tom McCall, with photos of members and Frank Carpenter at club dinners. Details of #3540¬†(on eBay) added.
  • 20/12/2017 Details added of Graham Nevett’s USWB tandem #3680 and Mark Campion’s track frame #4806
  • ¬†04/12/2017 Photos of road frame #3223 submitted by Huw Evans
  • 27/10/2017 Photo of road frame #4756 for sale on eBay
  • 15/10/2017 Info on Alan Ball, Festival RC, added + #4494¬† (Steve Ball)
  • 17/09/2017 Details of #3060 21″ road bike for sale.
  • 15/09/2017 Pictures of Pete Kennish’s bike added, #5201
  • 30/08/2017 #5030 extracted from the back of a garage after 40+ years
  • 29/08/2017 Details of #4041 frame for sale on eBay
  • 29/08/2017 Photo of tandem for sale on eBay. Frame number unknown
  • 21/08/2017 Photo of #4368 for sale on eBay
  • 14/08/2017 Carpenter marque ride and more details on rider’s bikes added
  • 10/08/2017 Richard Williamson’s #5444 added.
  • 24/07/2017 Photo of #5189, for sale on eBay
  • 03/07/2017 A section on Clubs has been started. Contributions welcome!
  • 12/06/2017 Rod Boot’s Olympic Pursuit #5035 added.
  • 22/05/2017 Details of Colin Cape “Carpenter Olympic” #CC7274 added (also for sale)
  • 25/04/2017 Photo of #4146¬†and links to YouTube clips of #3115¬†and Saxon-Bailey #88137 at Herne Hill
  • 07/02/2107 #3138 added to readers bikes, renovation docs here.
  • 02/02/2017 Youtube video added to Cronosquadra Versilia TTT event report
  • 02/02/2017 #4374 added to bikes seen on the Internet (with receipt)
  • 29/01/2017 #5085 added, owned by wife of “WyvernRH” in NSW, Aus.
  • 12/01/2017 Wheelbuilding price list 1963 added to Docs
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Receipt for #5457 added to Docs
  • 18/12/2016 – #4933¬†added to bikes seen on the internet.
  • 26/11/2016 – Patricia Killiard’s Olympic Massed Start #5435 added.
  • 07/11/16 – #5540 listed on eBay
  • 07/11/16 – #3021 listed on eBay
  • 13/10/16 – #5241 listed on eBay
  • 02/9/16 – John Goddard’s 1951 SA Speed Ace #4571 added
  • 02/9/16 – Report on Inaugural Carpenter Marque Ride.
  • 02/8/16 Info on #5189 added to bikes listed on eBay
  • 17/7/16 – Sharron von Tutschek’s 1951 Ladies Lightweight Tourer #4614
  • 10/7/16 – Steve Harding’s frame #3388 with original finish/decals added.
  • 12/6/16 – Info on #5169 added to bikes listed on eBay,¬† a receipt added to Docs

Some Acknowledgements:

  • Terry Harradine for encouraging me to ¬†restore my loved but tatty old Jensen;
  • John, my brother, for saying “Nice! I still have dad’s old Carpenter. Let’s fix it up”
  • Peter Underwood for his inspirational Classiclightweights site, our main source;
  • John Gill, V-CC Carpenter ‘ME’ , for his hugely informative piece on Peter’s site.
  • Janet Bedingfield for her research into the lives of Henry & Frank ¬†Carpenter;
  • Everyone who said “Carpenter? I’ve one in my shed. Too good to scrap. Have it.”
  • Sonia, whose car now has to live on our drive.
  • Garry and Mark Needham (& Martin!) for their expertise at Argos Racing Cycles;
  • Nick Tithecott at H Lloyd Cycles for turning scraps & doodles into works of art;
  • Mick Madgett for magicking true wheels from salvaged bits. Canes on Lee Valley!!
  • Vince Warner for giving me the confidence to delve into epicyclic hubs;
  • Everyone at East Grinstead CC for putting up with an anorak in their midst;
  • Giancarlo Brocci. A true hero, a legend. Say no more.
  • Joe Bedingfield for helping set up this website.