1947 #4146 SA Speed Ace (ex. Jack Manning)

Bars: Steel, unknown maker. Stem: GB 531

Brakes: GB Hiduminium

Chainset, Pedals: Chater-Lea

Saddle: Brooks B17 Narrow

Gears: Sturmey Archer AC close ratio

Wheels: BH Airlight Continental front hub. Rims (temporarily) Fiamme sprints

Pump: Bluemel


Jack Manning was a leading member of the Charlotteville CC in the late ’30s and post war till the early ’50s. See his palmares here. Being a well-built and strong man he was particularly keen to avoid breakages, so favoured steel components rather than lighter options. This bike was his post-war road bike, purchased by me as a frame with b/b and headset, to be fitted with components as advised by Les Bowerman. The paintwork is original, and good enough to be preserved rather than restored. Of particular interest is Jack’s use of a close-ratio Sturmey Archer AC hub, (his ‘Cocoa Tin’) particularly as we have a photo (possible pre-war) showing he raced with a Super-Champion ‘Osgear’ – presumably in a time trial as he is wearing an alpaca jacket and leggings. #4146 has no evidence of being fitted with anything other than a hub gear, so that’s how it is being restored.

Sturmey Archer hub gears were used as early as 1913 in the Tour de France (Petit-Breton), the 1938 Empire games, and in 1956 by Ray Booty in his straight-out RRA 100 record of 3:28:40. As 3-speed hubs they offered a mechanical efficiency similar to (if not better than) contemporary 3-speed derailleur gears. This was OK for flat road time trials and RRA records, but hillier road-races demanded a wider gearing spread, still with fairly small increments. Going above 3 speeds in a hub gear entails fitting a second cage of planet gears, with attendant complexity and weight. The 1953 Campagnolo Gran Sport 5-gear parallelogram derailleur swept all aside including Simplex derailleurs; hub gears were no longer used in competition, nor were plunger-spring derailleurs as offered by Simplex and Cyclo.