Carlton Flyer – The world's oldest carbon bike? + video

and it's British by gad!

by Tony Farrelly   February 24, 2010  

Carbon bikes, how long have they been around then? 10 years, 15? 20 tops? Well we visited Raleigh recently and and they showed us their first carbon effort – from 1969. They thought it might be the oldest carbon bike in the world… we think they're probably right.

In our video John Carter, who's been at Raleigh since 1975 talks us around the lugged carbon machine, one of 20 that were made by the company between 1969 and 1970 under the direction of Gerald O'Donavan the man who headed up Carlton Cycles in 1959 and who started Raleigh's fabled Raleigh Special Products division for which John worked. The six speed example we filmed weighs 7.5kg with a single chainset and no pedals a very impressive weight for the day.

The bikes were ridden by a number of top riders and used by British Cycling - this one has some world championship stripes too – although John told us not to get too carried away on that score as they had boxes and boxes of those at Raleigh back in the day. No matter it makes you proud of the inventiveness of British designers and engineers and makes you wonder what might have happened if Raleigh had followed up on the Carlton Flyer… why didn't they, watch the film and find out.

Check out the bonus Raleigh Centenary 24 carat gold bike in our gallery too one of 100 gold plated Reynolds 531 machines made to celebrate 100 years of Raleigh back in 1987. Of course we didn't go to Raleigh just to look at old stuff - check out their 2010 road range here and we'll have a story to follow soon.