DISRAELI GEARS

Hercules

Hercules Herailleur derailleur main image Hercules Herailleur derailleur main image Hercules Herailleur derailleur main image

Hercules ranks with Phillips, BSA and Raleigh as one of the great names of 20th Century British bicycle production. Harry and Ted Crane of Aston, Birmingham registered the Hercules Cycle and Motor Company in 1910. During the early decades of the century Hercules was spectacularly successful. It is often said that Hercules could, at one point, claim to be the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world. In 1946 Hercules was sold to Tube Investments who went on to consolidate the UK bicycle industry, first by grouping its many and various cycle companies into British Cycle Corporation, and then by buying Raleigh in 1960. After the purchase of Raleigh all of Tube Investments’ bicycle brands were put under Raleigh’s control and Hercules became just one of Raleigh’s many brand badges. The Hercules Cycle and Motor Company was finally wound up in 2003.

Like many of the better British bicycle brands, Hercules sold on their ‘quality’ which was effectively defined as the ability of their bicycles to last for ever. This wedded Hercules to the use of enclosed chains and hub gears and, in particular, to the use of steel as this has a ‘fatigue limit’ below which it will not suffer from metal fatigue. Steel can also be properly stove enamelled or chrome plated to give an exceedingly hard wearing finish. British cycle designers were notably suspicious of flimsy exposed derailleur gear systems and of aluminium - which has no ‘fatigue limit’ and does not hold a polish. The various metal fatigue disasters that plagued Britain’s ground breaking De Havilland Comet airliner during the early 1950s made British engineers see aluminium as a quixotic and untrustworthy material, unsuitable for a rough-and-tumble consumer product like a bicycle. Even in the 1970s I can remember bicycle shop customers saying that they were going to ‘take a chance’ and replace their steel handlebars and stem with aluminium Cinelli models.

Despite this essential conservatism, Hercules was interested in sports bicycles and was very active in British cycle racing in the early 1950s. They released their own ‘Herailleur’ derailleur in 1949. However the Herailleur was short lived - Hercules fairly quickly realised that they were not going to be able to keep up with derailleur developments and switched over to using Cyclo Benelux equipment.


see also UK Patent # 660,230 1949

see also UK Patent # 660,230 1949

UK Patent 660,230 - Hercules Herailleur thumbnail


Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1952

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1952

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1952 page 1 thumbnail



Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1954

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1954

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1954 page 1 thumbnail


Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1955

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1955

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1955 page 1 thumbnail


Hercules - Catalogue/Manual 1956?

Hercules - Catalogue/Manual 1956?

Hercules - Catalogue-Manual thumbnail
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