Saturday, January 9, 2021

1903/4 Lea Francis bicycle

Lea-Francis Light Roadster 1903 / 1904.

 Here's a recent purchase. I've been searching a while for a pre-1905 cycle within my budget that I could perhaps use to join in with the VCC London to Brighton Run. This Lea-Francis turned up in a South West London suburb and though it needs work it fits the bill rather perfectly. In the last few years the London to Brighton run has opened up to cycles and motorcycles of the correct age. Perhaps one day I shall be under motor power with my 1904 Quadrant.

The model is "Light Roadster" and it is a single speed job with a suitably large sized frame for my lanky stature. After some investigation I found that his particular Lea-Francis features on The Vintage Bicycle blog where there is a lengthy description of it and some good images. Rather strangely on the blog the Lea-Francis is judged by the author of the piece (who was not the owner) to be beyond repair due to rust around the bottom bracket. Personally I think that a bit harsh, it really doesn't seem so very bad to me and there is no evidence of the cycle having been dismantled at all for inspection so in my mind the verdict was rather premature.

The 'Leaf' shall be dismantled, thoroughly cleaned and preserved then returned to a rideable condition. It really is in rather remarkably original condition despite its generous covering of rust. This was probably the most expensive cycle one could buy in its time and as a comparison cost over a quarter more again than a Dursley Pedersen. Obviously I need to find a suitable saddle but everything else is there. The cork handlebar grips will have to have some remedial work and hopefully I can manage to replicate the celluloid upper to the chainguard.

Restoration will take a fair while what with other projects on the go but then again so will getting my fitness up to scratch to pedal the beast from central London down to Brighton seafront. 

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