Champion Sports (1951) AW three speed bicycle at Yellow Jersey
I acquired this bike filthy and in pieces. When I finally got around to cleaning and restoring it I was amazed at the wonderful condition of this beautiful bike under fifty years of oil and dirt. It's amazingly original - all except the rear tube and tire (a mid '60s US Royal) and one pedal (or at least a pair of rubber blocks on one side, the pedals seem otherwise to match. When we sold the blocks they came four in a package with bolts and nuts). I even lubricated and trimmed the original cable casings.
Interesting details, aside from the beautiful translucent sky blue over cream paint that is, include a cast iron BB shell [that's why Raleighs say "the all-steel bicycle" - they developed the mild steel pressed shell] with oiler, unusual rounded triangle lug cuts, cute Terry's (? marked "Reg.UK #803943"] top tube clips of a design I had not seen before and a leatherette Wright's saddle in unnatural natural color. Some stitches have dropped off the back trim.
Gearbox is a normal 1951 AW, rims a fairly light Endrick EA3 by Dunlop. Front tire and tube (!) are original as well. Brakes and classic ribbed rubber grips are John Bull, stem is unmarked but has a solid steel top brazed to the steel quill. I replaced the stripped expander with a Raleigh period-correct bolt and cone. Front hub is marked only "Made in England" and is double locknutted. Cranks are unmarked. I reused the cotters with a touch of the file. The hanger has new balls and spins silky-smooth. Headset is a Whitworth Brampton with new 1/8" balls. It is one of the floating cup designs used to great effect on Bianchis of the era. Chain is marked alternately "Made in England" and "The Coventry". Not just any Coventry but "The" Coventry. Gearing is normal 46x18 and the quadrant is an SA three/four speed with window, still at this year the "upside down" lettering type. The only accessory is an aluminum adjustable prop by "Shuresta"
Serial number is stamped vertically on the right side of the lower headlug, number 036825. Here are some closeup photos:
The last photo shows the upper headlug which is brazed at an incompatible angle to the lug designer's intent. Oh, well.
I am very interested in any information you might have about Champion, whoever they might have been. This bike is not part of the Raleigh empire, nor was it made by Armstrong/Hercules. While there were many small builders which survived the war but not British Labour recessions of the fifties, this one is otherwise unknown to me.
On 26 August, 2003 I got this email from a helpful anonymous expert: