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Classic Lightweights UK
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Hetchins Magnum Bonum - 1969/7

How it was acquired:
The frame was custom-made in 1969 for my father. It was his pride and joy and he used it almost every day for the next 36 years. It was left to me when he died in 2006.

On one of our rides together he told me that it was a replica of the Magnum Bonum that he had custom made for him in 1948. It was a present for his 18th birthday. To collect that first Hetchins he cycled to the Hetchins shop in London from High Wycombe on the Claud Butler he owned at the time, then cycled back the thirty or so miles home with the shiny new frame strapped across his shoulders.

That first Hetchins had to go in order to pay for a deposit for his first house but he always regretted selling it and some day planned to buy another. That day came in 1969 when he ordered this full-chrome Magnum Bonum from Alf Hetchin and built it up as a touring cycle as a present to himself in celebration of his 40th birthday. That was in April 1970. The same year, he rode it from Lands End to John O' Groats, a journey he repeated again on this same machine in 2000, aged seventy. Some years earlier, he had ridden it from the south of Spain, over the Pyrenees, across France and on to northern Germany.

He also used this Hetchins most days for pleasure and must have put tens of thousands of miles under its wheels. The Stronglight 49D cranks fitted in 1970 bear testimony to this and have deep grooves in them from the wear of the toestraps. The Bailey bars date from the 1930s and these were fitted to the very first lightweight that Hugh owned. They were also on his first Hetchins Magnum Bonum in the late 1940s. Many of the other components, however, had been updated over the years with newer non-period parts, so I decided to restore this wonderful machine to its 1970 specification, as shown here.

Hetchins 1


Frame Frame serial number H9145. Built in 1969, assembled 1970. Reynolds 531 butted tubes, forks and 'curly' Vibrant stays, Magnum Bonum lug design. Campagnolo front and rear dropouts. Hetchins forged double-plate fork crown with round-section fork blades. Braze-ons: brake and gear cable stops, gear lever bosses on down-tube, cube-ended pump pegs on seat tube, brake bridge on seatstays. Full-chrome finish, bottom bracket and vee at top of fork leg in red, lugs lined in red. Dimensions: Seat tube 23.75", top tube 23", Wheelbase 40.5"
Wheels Campagnolo Record large flange quick-release hubs, Mafac MA2 700c rims, chrome-plated spokes
Chainset Stronglight 49D double with TA 30/46-tooth rings
Pedals SR alloy quill pedals with Christophe toeclips and straps
Gears Campagnolo Nuovo Record front and rear, Suntour 6-speed 13-26 freewheel, Campagnolo down-tube levers
Brakes Mafac Racer centre pull with Mafac levers
Stem/Bars Reynolds Bailey alloy bars on Reynolds alloy stem (as shown) or GB Randonneur engraved bars on Milremo 4in stem (for touring).
Saddle Brooks Professional, dural seatpost
Extra details (when fitted): Red Bluemels Lightweight mudguards, Carradice saddlebag

Features that make it special:
Not only does this machine display some wonderful craftsmanship, but it also looks fabulous and is a great joy to ride. It is so light and responsive yet amazingly comfortable. The miles just slip by and you hardly notice the effort at all. I think the 'Vibrant' rear stays really do contribute to a more comfortable ride.

I ride the Hetchins regularly and it is certainly the machine I use most often in fair weather, though it rarely comes out in winter if the roads are wet because the salt would harm the chrome finish. Perhaps some day I will ride it from Land's End to John O' Groats - the third time for this machine. I doubt if I'll need any maps; Hugh's old Hetchins will show me the way...
Hetchins 2
Magnum Bonum lugs plus headbadge
Mafac 'Racer' stirrups
Hetchins 3
Side view of lugs also showing 'fretwork' on round fork blades
Hetchins 4
Clever use of paint to highlight the lugwork

Hetchins 5
Seat cluster where use of red paint mirrors that at the front.  You can also see the 'bridge' for the centre-pull brake cable plus cable guide
Hetchins 6
Close-up of the curly Vibrant stays showing the need for careful placing of the gear cable eye