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An olympic Deelite, & more Canadian bicycle history

An olympic Deelite, & more Canadian bicycle history

Look what we found for Audrey in the yard at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters yesterday:

Cute, isn’t it? Even if it has a hilariously inefficient rear mudguard. Audrey can ride it right now (or will be able to when she no longer relies on training wheels). You can’t tell from these photos, but there’s gold pinstriping on the frame. The flower-power banana seat is identical to NOS ones sold by Schwinnstore/Bicycle Heaven on eBay.

Growing up in Nova Scotia, I’d never seen one of these headbadges, but apparently they were really common in Western Canada. Turns out that¬† Deelites were imported by Fred Deeley Cycles Ltd., a historic Vancouver company best known now as Canada’s Harley-Davidson distributors and the predecessor to today’s Trev Deeley Motorcycles. Readers in BC may be able to fill in some blanks here, but I gather from various cycling forums that Fred Deeley Cycles imported Apollos (manufactured by Kuwahara in Osaka, Japan – who also made the BMX bike rode by Elliott in the movie E.T.) and possibly other Japanese bicycles, and Raleigh and Phillips bicycles, until the 70s or 80s. I couldn’t find any indication that the bicycle business is still open.

Here’s Fred Deeley Sr.’s obit, from The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website:

Fred Deeley Sr. Motorcycle dealer b. 1881,Bromsgrove, Eng.; d. May 9, 1970, Vancouver. After 10 years in business in England, he first visited B.C. in 1913, representing the Birmingham Small Arms, manufacturer of BSA motorcycles. Bought out BSA and opened Fred Deeley Ltd. (1914) in a 12′-wide store at 1075 Granville. In 1916 acquired Harley-Davidson franchise, becoming its second oldest dealership. By 1925 he owned a motorcycle shop, bicycle shop, and one of Canada’s larger car dealerships. Company included son Fred Jr. and grandson Trev (b. 1920) of Trev Deeley Motorcycles. Biography: Motorcycle Millionaire, by Trev Deeley.”

So, we have a lot of candidates for the manufacturer of this bicycle. Here are the clues we have:

“MADE IN JAPAN” sticker on the frame’s lower tube, and the remnants of a triangular decal on the front forks.

The coaster brake, with hub marked NANKAI (logo) NO. 75 COASTER (photo coming soon) and this stamp on the arm: N(logo)K MADE IN JAPAN. A quick search shows that the NK-75 was a commonly used coaster brake, made by Nankai Tekko Company, Ltd. of Osaka, Japan. [15 March Update: a history in PDF form from the Techno Nankai website indicates that they started exporting the NK-75 in 1970. So we now know it’s probably a post-1970 bike!]

The tire rims are marked ARAYA 16 x 1.75 MADE IN JAPAN.

Cottered cranks and pedals with replaceable rubber pads (that look like they’ve never been replaced).

I wonder what this hole near the headset was for?
The front fender isn’t true and will need to be fixed.

The Vancouver connection and the fact that we found it the day after the opening ceremonies has us thinking that this bike needs an Olympic name and some multicoloured Olympic-coloured accessories… any suggestions?

Here’s the only other Fred Deeley headbadge or decal image I was able to find on the net, from a 1984 Kuwahara Club Sport bike (with a stamped serial number that started 84). I’m reproducing it here since images seem to disappear from these forums all the time:


So, do you have any idea if this is, in fact, a Kuwahara-manufactured bike, or what era it’s from (70s or 80s)? Anything you can fill in about the history of the Deelite or Fred Deeley Cycles?

1970s made-in-Canada Raleigh Cyclone High Riser

1970s made-in-Canada Raleigh Cyclone High Riser

We bought this – for the kids to ride – from a 32-year-old in Fort Saskatchewan who remembers riding it in the mid-70s. The Made-In-Canada sticker (white rectangle above the bottom bracket) means it was manufactured after 1972 at the earliest, since that’s when the Canadian factory in Waterloo, Quebec began production.

I haven’t been able to find the serial number on the frame – does anyone know where I should be looking?

Based on the above photo from Kijiji, I was expecting it to be child-sized, but it turns out that it’s teenager-to-adult-sized. The seat is set about 28 inches above ground level, and could easily go higher – in a pinch, I could ride it (although the front tire needs attention before it can go for a spin). The dark orange paint has inspired a temporary name: Gina. Orange Gina. Get it? Although it looks more like a boy. Gino, perhaps.


A better view of the Made In Canada sticker. The kickstand is just for looks – a couple of inches too short, so the poor bike falls over when you try to use it. Needs replacement. Also, notice the cotterless cranks.

Canadian-made Raleighs, like the Nottingham-built Raleigh offlabels built for foreign markets, often had names that were used for completely different bicycles that had been made by a company that TI (Raleigh’s parent company) had bought out – which can make it hard to find information about them. In the case of the Cyclone, all that comes up in Google searches are references to a 1980s Raleigh(UK) mountain bike. Apparently it was groundbreaking – but it’s not the same bicycle at all.

For starters, look at all the visible welds. Tsk, tsk.

The frame architecture of this bike is really similar to the Raleigh Burner or the (also Canadian) Raleigh MX, but with traditional forks and 20-inch wheels instead of BMX ones, and the handlebars, sissy bar, and Troxel pleated vinyl banana seat seen on the Fireball and Rodeo High Risers that Raleigh(America) introduced in about 1966 (pre-Chopper/Fastback) in response to the popularity of similar bikes that had been available from the American manufacturers Huffy and Schwinn since 1963.

Rear view.

The original seat cover has split on both sides, and that’s rusty metal you see.
Front forks, with the remnant of the front fender bracket.

The rear coaster brake hub, in good working order, is (sadly) not a Sturmey…
…it’s a Shimano.

One last beauty shot: the headbadge decal.
I think it’ll clean up really nicely – especially the chrome, which has only superficial rust – and make a really fun ride.
I’d love to hear from anyone else who knows about Raleigh’s high risers, or other Canadian-manufactured Raleighs, and hear how this one compares! I bet a few of you have memories of riding bikes like these as a kid…