Yellow Jersey

We enjoyed an excellent relationship with the W.F.Holdsworthy Company in our early days. They were wonderfully helpful, especially their accommodating export director, David Goodall and the ever-outgoing John Lewis. British cycling was enjoying a boost, what with Les West and the Holdsworth Team doing so well in racing at the time. Since the Holdsworthy company not only built good bikes, but were the main agents for Reynolds tube, Prugnat and Wagner lugs and crowns and of course Campagnolo equipment for Britain, the "bike boom" was very good to them. They were gracious and instructive well beyond any other European vendor to us in our youth.

With their retail stores and ubiquitous wholesale operations, they were the powerhouse of British cycling and one of Raleigh's few serious competitors at the top of the market. One retail store was managed by Roy Thame, a fixture in the London trade for many years and an all-around helpful guy. Roy once promptly arranged a replacement bike with us for a customer whose bike was crushed by a Tokyo taxi. That's the sort of extra service story that gets retold twenty years later!
Similar to Columbus' guidance, almost control, of so many small Italian builders, Holdsworth shipped tube, lugs and Campagnolo to Bob Jackson, Hetchins, Mercian, Condor and many other small workshops of England. Those builders also bought Holdsworth frames - always on the peg at a good price. Typically, when I walked into the old Hetchins shop in Tottenham he had a Holdsworth Mistral touring frame in the window which I bought for a friend below our wholesale cost.

Just as Raleigh amalgamated the smaller struggling operations of Humber, Royal Scot, Phillips and others, Holdsworthy incorporated famous names like Freddie Grubb, Maclean and Claud Butler into the fold. Unfortunately, Holdsworth never realized the full potential of that end of the business. One wonders if more attention had been paid to opening various dealers with the sundry labels. . .

Here is the 1972 catalog cover:

Les West was a popular guy then

And the same year of Butler book:

 Not so popular in the States

And more of the range:

Looks cheap now

Nice track frames

From the subliime to the ridiculous

And some Butler models:

Just like Holdsworths

Holdsworth Team Professional frames were painted a bright pumpkin orange - a color not unlike the Eddy Merckx Falcons and Motobocane's Team Champion (Luis Ocana won the '73 Tour on an orange Moto). Holdsworth added a complimentary deep teal translucent panel in their trademark color "Kingfisher Blue". White lettering was in block Helvetica, all caps, and hand oultined in red by prim British ladies, fluidly, gracefully, by hand, with a long striping brush.
We are told this woman's name is Dorothy. If you know her or something about her please write us. We'd love to interview her for this page.

takes a steady hand and not too much tea
By 1983, Holdsworth had growing pains and was big enough as to be unmanageable. I remember well a meeting with David Goodall and my other directors of Chicago Cycle Supply Company. Mr Goodall dropped the bomb - Holdsworth had just opened six new distributors in the States. That meant we would have to lower our prices and probably lose some wholesale business. I asked what ever we had done to deserve that. David unrolled a map of America and said that Holdsworth's directors felt that without at least six distributors "America is so large you can't get your lorries 'round to all the shops". England at the time had no equivalent of UPS and they really felt they were doing us a favor! Here's a brochure from Nile Nims in Iowa who sold Holdsworths at the time

small format, poor tone

The cardinal sin, though, was overproduction:

too much

By the middle eighties, the Japanese were turning out top level frames and equipment buoyed by an artificially weak yen. Goods priced in Sterling could no longer compete. Holdsworth added their own label equipment under the "Allez" brand made by SR-Sakae (the Allez name was shamelessly stolen by Specialized as Holdsworth had trademarked in the UK but forgot to list it in USA).

Raleigh continued to sell ever more bicycles built by Tano and Company in Japan which were clearly better quality and lower priced than bikes from Nottingham. But Holdsworth didn't. In fact, they abandoned their ancient three storey brick works in Putney for a brand new steel building at Oakfield Road. A slump in the bike business, a strong Sterling, cleaner lighter Japanese frames and way too large a staff building way too many bikes proved Holdsworth's undoing. John Lewis found work at Carrimor but I've lost contact with the others over the years.

If you know where any of the old Holdsworth staff are today, please write.

Pointedly, we are here to repair, restore or just compliment your Holdsworth bicycle
Yes we can
Pointedly, we are here to repair, restore or just compliment your Holdsworth bicycle
Yes we can

Your Holdsworth bicycle will have its deserved appreciation besides tools, spares and skills

Mr Martin Brennan of the Holdsworthy staff, 1974

I had the distinct pleasure to meet online Mr Norman Kilgariff, who has extensively recorded voluminous details of Holdsworth's history . His research is impressively thorough with lots of period images on his British Holdsworth Webpage Those with any interest in specific years and models should be reading his, not mine!

Photos at Oakfield Road are by Sky Yaeger

We can supply original Holdsworth Factory film transfer lettering. Please inquire below

Holdsworth Factory Photos

PLEASE do not write to say you bought a repainted frame at a yard sale for $23 which you suspect is a classic racing bicycle and ask me, from the serial number, to tell you which races were won on it and by whom or things of that nature. I do not know.
how to order

We have a limited number of
factory original Holdsworth film transfer decals
and other vintage decals and stickers

Back to Yellow Jersey Home