Classic Lightweights UK
Readers' Bikes  

Major Brothers touring - 1959

Owned by: Steve Griffith

Major Bros. RB 1

Major Bros, 1959  'Touring'  model, the last owner being a  keen member of the Rough Stuff Fellowship this bike has conquered many of the  blue-riband  Scottish and Welsh rough stuff crossings notably the toughest challenge of them all the Lairig Ghru (27 miles from Aviemore to Braemer much of it across a boulder field  carrying the bike).
Major Bros were a small shop/builder based in Thornton Heath SE London , popular with local CTC riders the half dozen or so Major's  I have seen have  all been touring.clubman machines, this one features some unique engineering solutions. The brothers Frank and Arthur ended up falling out and setting up rival shops. The orginal shop finally closed in 1969 although no frames were built after about 1962.
Major Brothers 'Touring' 531 Nervex lugs. Built for 26 x  1¼ which continued to be popular with tourists who enjoyed rough stuff  due to the far greater mudguard clearance  and  giving a slightly stronger wheel. Braze-on for dynamo on rear seat stay,  concealed dynamo cabling. Lamp bracket on left-hand  fork for continental touring. Braze-on for a rear mech. as the cycle was designed orginally for hybrid gearing.
Conloy Boa (the heavier solid version) on Sturmey FM rear and front small flange FB (the worlds finest hub according to Arthur Major). One advantage of this combination is that you can have the same spoke length if rear built 4x and front 3x
Chainset Williams C34 with  44t ring
Pedals Lyotard 460D wide double sided  so can be used with walking type shoes  and without clips (useful when pushing the bike on a rough track)
Gears Sturmey-Archer FM
Brakes Weinmann Cantilevers (originally Mafac driver which had  become badly corroded)  with Mafac Guidonnet levers which allow braking from the  top of the bars
Stem/Bars GB Maes bars on GB alloy spearpoint stem,Steel Campag record headset
Saddle Brooks B17
Extra details Special features  the front brake has no outer cable, it runs around  a pulley after exiting the lever straight down to the  brake. The rear straddle cable starts under the top tube and  pulleys placed either side allow it to run to the brake. Pulleys are fitted on an adapted Huret bottom bracket cable guide. See images below.

It is interesting to compare this to a clubman /racing frame of the time. Tourists recognised the advantages of cantillever brakes -  tremenduous stopping power and less mechanism to get clogged up with mud. Sturmeys were viewed as less prone to damage and the FM (four-speed medium) was the favoured gear. Alloy cranks were expensive and viewed as not as durable as steel, the 26" wheels gave better mudguard clearance, nevertheless there are some things in common with more sportier machines eg the Brooks B17, FB front hub and the Campag headset.

Major Bos RB 2 Major Bos RB 3

Steve would like to get hold of some Major Brothers transfers - if you are able to help contact via the webmaster, email address on home page.