Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1954

Hercules - Wonder Wheels 1954 page 1 main image

This brilliant catalogue is one of my favourites. I love the 1950s colours and the tiny scenes from an idealised 1950s life. I particularly note:

  • The man who goes fishing wearing a white shirt, a tie and polished shoes (page 4).
  • The strangely schizophrenic legwear - with huge voluminous plus-fours for the men and the tiniest of shorts for the women (see page 10 or page 21 for examples). Perhaps it was all some reaction to the ending of clothing rationing.
  • The slight tension between the images - stressing stately homes, ivy-clad colleges and private schooling - and the text which never fails to mention that the bicycle is available on easy terms. It’s not for nothing that in the classic Frost Report sketch about the class system John Cleese’s Upper Class gentleman says “I have got innate breeding - but I have not got any money...”.
  • The stress on the ‘low built’ frame design of a number of the 3 speed roadster models (see page 10 for an example).

In terms of derailleurs, the 3 speed Hercules Herailleur (featured on page 31) is shown on 5 models and offered as an option on 4 more - but is not deemed good enough for the Hercules Maestro - which gets a 4 speed Cyclo Benelux system (see page 27).