29 September 2008: The Moulton Story (part one)

The first of a two-parter telling the story of Moulton bicycles: the radical reinvention of the bicycle by Dr Alex Moulton that, despite some commercial setbacks along the way, continues to push the boundaries of cutting edge engineering. Moultons have been feted by architects and designers, won races and broken speed records, and are taken to the hearts of their riders, the Moultoneers, many of whom consider them to be the best kept secret on two wheels. Over the next two weeks The Bike Show will trace the history of the Moulton bicycle from its inception in the late 1950s and its sixties heyday, look ahead to its future and try to capture something of the Moulton spirit. Featuring interviews with Dr Alex Moulton, Shaun Moulton, Tony Hadland, Michael Woolf and a cast of Moultoneers. Image, left, shows the young Sheldon Brown on his Moulton Deluxe in 1971.

Play on links below. Other file formats (Ogg Vorbis, 64kb MP3) over here.

  • Dave

    Very interesting episode Jack, looking forward to part 2
    I have never seen a Moulton, maybe we don’t have too many over here in NY state…

    Thanks!

    Dave

  • http://highwaycyclinggroup.wordpress.com David

    Hi Jack, brilliant episode. I live near Bradford on Avon and one of my friends has just started working for Moulton – it’s a dream come true for him. I’m really looking forward to part two.

  • mike

    but why small wheels? if the benefit of the moulton is the high pressure tyres, wouldn’t a bike with 26 inch wheels AND high pressure tyres, be better still?

  • Jack

    Mike – Rolling resistance is a major factor, also air resistance of spokes and the changes to the shape of the frame that small wheels permit. All of these conspire to make a small wheeled bicycle potentially faster.

    The tests have shown that around 17 inches diameter is optimal. This is what you’d expect if you look at the most cutting edge HPV (human powered vehicle) designs, most of which use a wheel size very close to 17 inches.

    The genius of the Moulton design is not the high pressure tyres by themselves, but the combination of high pressure, smaller tyres with suspension and a reshaping of the frame for greater stiffness – particularly the space frames (see part two of the feature). Suspension is not just about rider comfort, it also increases efficiency by reducing the momentum loss when going over bumps or dips in the road.

    I suppose the ultimate proof is the fact that Moulton’s bicycles were quickly banned from use in most competitions because they give the rider too great an advantage.

    More reading over here:

    http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~hadland/page15.html

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