Dating raleigh bicycles serial
Under the slogan "Hand Made Cycles at Mass Production Prices", Carlton established itself as a leader in the field with a wide range of specially designed frames for timetrialling, road racing, track, club and even cycle polo which were renown for their craftsmanship, finish and distinctive lugwork as well as their advanced design and engineering.
Moreover, it mostly sold complete machines with carefully selected components and fittings with a broad price range. In 1958 his son, Gerald O' Donovan, joined the firm and became Manager and Chief Designer two years later.
In 1939, Carlton was bought by the O'Donovan family with D. By the mid 1950s, British bicycle sales were in a prolonged slump concurrent with a marked increase in private car ownership aided by hire purchase schemes.
Although use of bicycles as basic transport diminished, the market for racing, sports and leisure machines remained hopeful with increased leisure time and intense interest in cycle racing especially the growth of mass start racing in Britain with the Tour of Britain, Tour of the South-West, London-Holyhead etc.
Carlton would now, in addition to its own range, manufacture lightweights for Raleigh, Triumph, Sun, Dunelt and others based on the Raleigh "branding" principle.
Finally, heading Carlton's design department was Gerald O' Donovan who proved one of the leading designers of racing bicycles both for professional use and also commercially.
Even more than most Raleigh models of this era, dating and identifying Professionals can be a bit of a minefield especially if one falls into the "brochure trap" of trying to reconcile production machines with the blandishments of a paper brochure.
With Raleigh, it's more meaningful to ascertain the serial number especially the letter prefix which determines the production year of the frame that may often bracket the brochure "year".
To provide a quick "key in the door" to the top-end racing and sports cycle market, Reg Harris instead suggested acquiring Carlton as a going concern.
As early as 1957, Raleigh explored setting up a specialist lightweight building unit in the old Sturmey-Archer gear works which was vacant after its new factory extension had opened.
This new unit was to be a subsidiary under Reg Harris, Raleigh's longstanding spokesman and track star, and branded under his name.
It was a market, especially at the high end, that Raleigh, the world's largest cycle manufacturer, was unable to tap at the time.
Its last professional grade, custom order lightweight bicycle, the fabled Raleigh Record Ace, was out of production by 1954 and by the end of the decade its longstanding Lenton series of entry level sports machines with hub gears was nearing the end of its productive and profitable life.