Thursday, May 2, 2013

Carlton Courette Mixte

Bicycle projects are not unlike jigsaw puzzles: the excitement lies on the experience of looking for the appropriate parts and putting them together. Sometimes some of our customers walked in and brought plethora of parts to be built, so our job is putting them together and sometimes, looking for the incomplete parts.

The England-based Carlton Cycles was established on 1898. Going through many ups and downs, they did well in the post war cycling boom as demand for lightweight cycles hits an all time high. After Raleigh's merger with the TI Group, they look for ways to break into the quality hand built market, so in March 1960 TI-Raleigh take over Carlton Cycles. The brand enjoyed many championship victories and peaked its production rate during the sixties to mid-seventies. Sadly, the slump in sales as the result of US recession in the seventies forced Carlton Cycles to shut down completely in 1981.

The Courette was the name introduced in 1955 for the Carlton ladies model. Built with Reynolds 531 tubing, in 1960 the frame design was changed to the Continental style, later known as Mixte style. This was described as using "twin lateral stays in construction, ideal for business and for touring and hostelling."
This particular Courette was made in 1963, recognized from the frame numbers that were stamped on the left side rear dropout. Originally available with both upturned and drop bars, some of the unique features are the top/lateral tube-mounted shifter and the ornate lugs.

Brampton bottom bracket and Raleigh cottered crankset.
Shimano 333 downtube shifters dated back from early '70s.
Most of the parts used on this build came from the owner, who collected one by one through online-order shop and eBay. Of many handlebar choices given, we decided to go with the Promenade-styled handlebar-stem combo taken from old Dutch bicycle. We put reverse-styled brake lever to make them work with modern dual-pivot brake calipers, since the handlebar originally designed for pull-rod brake levers.

Ah, yes. The rear brake. To keep using the original brake cable routing, we put the brake caliper in front of the seatstay bridge and invert the brake cable routing on the caliper. Works like a charm, with a clean look to boot.
Other part highlights are Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear derailer and Velo Orange PBP rims laced to a pair of Suntour hubs. Red suede Concor Supercorsa saddle gives a nice contrast to the whole build.

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