Friday, November 14, 2008

Post-Raleigh Hercules: Can Anyone Help?

I received an email from Yanek of Bicyclog (which documents some of Tel Aviv's more interesting bicycles) asking if I knew anything about the Hercules brand. Apparently, Yanek has stumbled upon that dream of all old bicycle lovers: mint-condition old bikes in the back of someone's defunct shop.
I found an old bike shop here in Tel Aviv, (its not operating). I made an appointment with the owner of the shop, and at the back I've discovered these 4 black and one blue HERCULES 3 Speed bicycles the blacks are in mint condition directly from the factory, only the tires been eaten by the rats. and the blue is been slightly used. I wanted to ask you if you know how much this bike worth, and if you know something about this model or this brand.
I gave Yanek a partial answer, based on what little I know about Hercules, which is that they were bought by Raleigh in 1960, and that they manufactured their own 3-speed hubs before the buyout. These, however, have Sturmey-Archer hubs, so I'm guessing that they are 1960s or 1970s bikes.  If you know anything more about these bikes, and can help Yanek determine dates and values, please leave a note in the comments.


12 comments:

  1. Value will be subjective. He should be able to date them by the rear hubs. AFAIK Hercules was taken over by TII/Raleigh around 1954.

    Aaron

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  2. Ah, thanks for the correction on dates--got my info from Menotomy. I wonder if there is some lag-time between the takeover and the switch to S-A hubs from the Hercules hubs? Does anyone know if the post-Raleigh Hercules bikes have Raleigh serial numbers? That is, would a Raleigh serial number chart help date these bikes?

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  3. The hubs will have a two digit number on them to represent the yera they wre built, which will closely date the whole bike.

    Judging by the vinyl sadlles, I'd say they are definitely early seventies. By that time, Hercules was a lower tier Raleigh brand.

    They may not be woth much, but they're daed cool and a good ride,l and they do have Sturmey Archer three speed, which is nothing to complain about. The Mrs. had one once and she loved it.

    Look it up on Sheldon Brown. As you might expect, the whole story can be found there and then some.

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  4. The plastic Brooks mattress saddles were still being used into the early 80's. The hub dates are going to be his best bet. The serial numbers for the 70's models due not follow a set patten. I suspect due to bike being manufactured in at least 3 different countries. Bicycles made prior to the mid 80's really don't have a model year per se. They would make running changes as they came a long.

    Aaron

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  5. Yet another stray thought came to mind...Raleigh made so many different bike models that it would be very difficult to catalogue them. They made special run models for various retail outlets, they made different bikes for different markets. Many of these bikes never show up in the standard catalogues. I have one such bike in possession. It is a Hercules built in Birmingham, single speed freewheel rod brakes, 26" wheels. It is a Skyliner model. All we know for sure is that it was most likely produced between 1946 and 1954. It has not been found in any Hercules catalog or advertising from that period.

    Aaron

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  6. Interesting my current project is an AMF Hercules made in Biringham , England . LOL everything on the bike says made in England .It has a Sturmey Archer 3 speed coaster hub with 63-8 on it so I'm guessing it was made in 1963 . It has front hand brakes . What I find a little odd is the top tube is arched and the bottom tube is s shaped like a cruiser bike .Over all it looks much like a 3 speed I had in the 60s .When I got got this bicycle and two others I was planing on taking off the 3speed hubs and throwing the bicycles in the metal dumpster . I saw what good shape they were in and now it's recycling time .While it would be interesting to know if it has some value beyond all the happy memories it brings back for me ,it doesn't matter as I'm keeping it .

    randomray

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  7. Ahhh , who is this AFRIK Hercules ? Is it the same Hercules Cycle & Motor Co. that as near as I can tell made the bike I have now ? It sounds like it might be the branch that they had in South Africa . There was/is a Hercules branch in India also . Sorry , you're information isn't fitting with with my other research could you clarify this for me ? Doubtless you know far more then I .

    Randomray

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  8. @ Randomray: I'm afraid you've misread AFAIK= "as far as I know" for AFRIK. Our friend Aaron (2whls3spds) frequently stumps me with his abbreviations and acronyms, too. This one took me a minute...

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  9. Ah haw , shows how computer savvy I am . As near as I can find out so far, TI took over Hercules in the mid 50s and others then around 1960 turned operations over to Raleigh .Supposedly operations in Birmingham stopped at that time .Yet here I am with a Hercules made in Birmingham from 1963 . I love working on this bike none of my wrenches fit . LOL ,everything has made in England on it even the brake pads and the seat post . I really should have taken before pictures as the wheels look brand new now they're cleaned up . The paint has scratches and nicks so it's not fresh out of the box looking . It does show signs of being waxed a number of times . It must have been somebodies baby , ridden and cared for .

    Randomray

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  10. I just bought a AMF Hercules yesterday. I checked a couple of websites and found out that Montgomery Wards carried them around 1960. All of my parts say "made in England" but it also has the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub. Also has the vinyl Brooks saddle. I'm interested in dating it but it really doesn't matter since it's going to be my commuter bike anyway.

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  11. @Jen: check the rear hub, it should have two date stamps, one will be the year, one will be the month.

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  12. Thanks for that bit about Montgomery Wards I was wondering how it might have gotten here . You can see my Hercules at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jarm13/3905596244/in/set-72157622038358292/

    Randomray

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