The Moulton bicycle
At about the same time he was working on the suspension of the Morris Mini, Dr Alex Moulton began to redesign the bicycle. His aim was to make a more compact and useful machine. So that loads could be carried over the centreline, he used small wheels, and to keep a comfortable ride, he added suspension, by spring at the front and with a rubber block at the rear. The small wheels require high pressure tyres, and Moulton was eventually to develop his own tyre.
The Series 1 Moulton was built during the 1960s by Moulton and Raleigh in the UK and by Malvern Star in Australia. This one was built in 1965 at Kirkby in the UK and has been restored to near original condition by local Moulton expert Mike Doube. Wheels are 37-349 (with Primo tyres), and the rear hub is a three speed Sturmey Archer. Being low geared, it’s a bit slow, but ideal for pottering about town (and for Bike-Ed, hence the uniform top).
The licence agreement with Raleigh collapsed, so Moulton began completely redesigning the bike — the AM series. The result, announced in 1983, had a completely new spaceframe, which split in the middle. The front suspension, still with a spring in the headstem, now had friction damping through the leading links. The rear suspension was with a rubber cone. Both suspensions can be adjusted for rider weight and conditions.
In 1988 Moulton produced the ATB version, with larger 406 (BMX size) wheels. It was available only as a frame set, and the original owner of this one used 451 rims instead and set it up as a road bike. Very effective it is too. It has both front and rear carriers (and temporary mudguards).
As Dr Moulton puts it, comparing it to the diamond frame bicycle, the AM Series is definitely not ‘that quadrilateral bit of piping’. Moulton bicycles are the only bikes worthy of the name HPV.
The AM-ATB evolved into the AM-APB, built by Pashley rather than Alex Moulton Ltd.
The latest Moulton bike is built by Bridgestone in Japan. It looks much like the old F-frame machines of the 1960s, but is completely redesigned. The frame is now aluminium, the front suspension uses a scissor link in place of the splined bush, and the rear suspension is rather different. This example has front derailleur and the optional front and large rear racks.
It rides like the older machines, but with much better suspension control: some reviewers even rate it as better than recent spaceframe machines.
Moulton and Pashley are now represented in Australia by Michael Kater in Daylesford, Victoria. There’s a Moulton Bicycle Club, with members world-wide.
An all too rare sight: several Moultons together in one spot in Adelaide. Sam Powrie organised a second ride for local owners in March 2002: L–R: Peter Carter, Bill Hickling, Mike Doube, Sam Powrie, Tony Steele (with Zzipper fairing and frame skins).