Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking
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I am writing to see if anybody has any information about Bill Freebairn or his rims. I bought a job lot of tubular rims and among them was a beautiful old rim with a tag on it saying "Free Bairn". I did a little research but couldn't find much except that the rim is a Freebairn wood lined rim designed/made by Bill Freebairn who was an Australian cyclist who was also involved in harness racing.
The rim is amazingly light (I might be wrong but it feel lighter than the Fiamme Ergals I have) and it's got me intrigued. Anybody know when they were made, what they're like in use, or anything else about them? (Or even whether or not I'm right in thinking that Bill Freebairn is involved.)
I cannot help you about the Freebairn rims. I used Weinmann wood filled rims for racing and would dearly like to find a matching 32 hole rim. Milremo also made wood filled rims. In a word I found them to be "lively".
I dont know a lot but I can tell you that Bill did race (bikes) as well as making wood rims. He had the nickname 'Bon Bon.'
I have a set of his trotting rims here and a friend of mine knew Bill so when I see him on the weekend I will ask him for further info. All I know is my friend speaks fondly of him when reminiscing so my guess, he was a decent guy.
Thanks for the responses already. Maybe I should also just broaden the question to wood-filled aluminium rims in general. What they're like to ride, how durable they are, what sorts of spoke tensions to run, and so on (or doesn't it make sense to lump all wood-filled aluminium rims together)?
Thought it might be worthwhile dredging this thread up to post some info on William Robert ("Bill" or "Bom Bom") Freebairn. (This post rescued via Google Cache, the original disappeared courtesy of the BNA MySQL crash.)
William Robert Freebairn (1911?-1993) was a racing cyclist. He won the professional Goulburn to Sydney race in 1931, that's him on the right (I think) looking pretty suave. Note the Malvern Star bike sports a side-pull brake, whereas just about everyone else in this period used Philcos.
There are a couple of articles on his racing career here, here and here. Interesting to note that one of them rates him as better on the track than Oppy (a big call I must say).
By 1949 he had set himself up as a bicycle tyre manufacturer, expanding into rim construction. He seems to have specialised in lightweight racing rims and singles. He also began supplying lightweight wheels to the trotting industry and in 1954 Ribands, towing a Freebairn-wheeled sulky, set an Australian trotting record for the flying mile. He had a shop at 178a City Road Darlington in the late 1950s.
Pictured below is what's left of a Freebairn single rim, which has failed pretty spectacularly in about 3 places. Curiously the label carries a BrevetÃ© S.G.D.G. (French copyright) mark. Don't know whether this was to impress the punters, or maybe there were plans to sell the rims overseas?
Last edited by Johnj on Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If I can quote from Jack Hephers book "90 YEARS OF A CYCLING CLASSIC - GOULBURN TO sYDNEY 1902 - 1992"
First edition, Page 81.
Bom Bom's gift
"Bill 'Bom Bom' Freebairn out sprinted some mature professionals to score an easy win in the 1931 Goulburn to Sydney Classic.
The interesting thing about 'Bom Bom's' success was that he was 17 years of age, the youngest rider to ever win the classic.
I well reccollect his tactics, he always wore a striped beanie with a large tassel on the peak. He would hide among the so called tailenders who always frequent the scratch races, untill near the last laps, when his beanie would be seen among the riders as 'Bom Bom' would often as not try to achieve a break on the field, to the delight of his fans."
Apparently the 'tassell' on his beanie was commonly refered to as a Bom Bom & it was so colourfull & stood out so well that the fans had no difficulty in knowing where he was at all times. When I was a kid we called them Pom Poms.
Please note that Jack always refered to Bill as 'Bom Bom' both in text & when talking to me of him. I have always assumed that Jack's version of the name was correct since he was not only a contemporary but knew him personally.
Bom Bom had rims manufactured for him in France which accounts for the French text on the label. I don't know about the place of manufacture of the tyres though.
We call it 'outsourcing' these days & is so commonplace as to be regarded as normal these days.
Incidentally, Constrictor Tyre Co in the UK never actually manufactured anything that they sold under the Constrictor, Conloy or Ozgear names & they go back into the early 30's or even earlier, so Bom Bom was hardly setting a pecedent.
Carbine & SJH cycles, & Quicksilver BMX
Now that's AUSTRALIAN to the core.
Thanks KC, I've amended my original post to "Bom Bom". I did find a newspaper reference to "Bom Bom", but I thought it was a mistake.....
The rims manufactured in France you say? Wonder where the tyres were made?
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