Welcome…..

…..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!

Special Notices: The next Carpenter marque ride will be on Sunday August 13, 2017, starting from Shepperton. Contact petersbed@aol.com   Other makes more than welcome.

ariel.bicyclesWhen Henry Carpenter was born ‘Ordinary’  (‘Penny-Farthing’) bicycles were playthings of the rich, the Ferraris of their day. As a child Henry saw them swept aside by the  diamond-framed, steel-tubed,  ‘Safety’ cycles we recognise today. These affordable bikes greatly expanded the horizons of their owners, triggering a social revolution. Tens of thousands of spectators packed new velodromes. Britain led the world in an explosive growth of cycle making; small artisan builders flourished, custom building bespoke lightweight race bikes. One of the most respected marques was that of Henry Carpenter.

Fast forward 100 years….

boardman barcelona 92 compIn his retirement Henry’s son Frank might well have watched Chris Boardman’s game-changing Olympic win on TV. The arrival of composite carbon fibre wheels, frames and components sealed the fate of the steel framed racing bike; its long reign was over.  All was set for a resurgence of interest, but not one that could support the army of craftsmen that had built them.

With wheel carriers compHenry and Frank Carpenter, father and son, were not simply bystanders through this era, they were specialists, master craftsmen of  lightweight cycles. From the early ’20s until the late 1960s they hand-built over 5000 racing cycles, the choice of many leading riders and champions of their day. They established an envied reputation for meticulous workmanship.

This site draws together information about the business, the bikes and their riders, setting them in the context of their time. The ‘Carpenter’ story illustrates the steady development of race bikes in Britain. Their 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:

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.