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 Post subject: Re: Trackers
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:09 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:18 am
Posts: 34
Location: Poole Dorset UK
/\ That sound exactly like mine Gruff !
But I think it was brush painted grey !


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:23 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:59 pm
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Location: Kent, UK
Gruff wrote:
AndyZ, want pics of your Tracker!!

This thread takes me right back, BSA Tourer,motorbike bars shimmed and bolted to stem, rear brake only and i then rattle canned the frame metallic green :D


Sadly, it's currently in bits, as I only recently recovered it from my Dad's old shed where it has sat for the last 25 years! The only parts I can't find are the original 'bars I used and the levers. The 'bars were chromed steel cowhorns, couldn't afford Renthals then! I'm still trying to find a period photo of it; my Dad took 1000s of photos so there must be one somewhere. I do have a photo of my previous tracker, a single speed thing, but that picture is way too embarrassing to publish! Only one person on this forum has seen it, and that's more than enough! :oops:


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 Post subject: Re: Trackers
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:43 am 
Retro Guru

Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:55 pm
Posts: 490
Location: YORKSHIRE
We built them at Ripon Yorks back in 59. Used to belt around the rough tree lined edges of the local park. We didnt straighten forks though. its all a heck of a long time ago now and the old memory is not what it was.I am amazed that it was country wide. I still reckon the mountain bike was invented here in the u.k.We called the bikes trackers as well.Heck. that takes me back some.


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 Post subject: Re: Trackers
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:16 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:18 am
Posts: 34
Location: Poole Dorset UK
We used a pressed steel brake lever , easier to bend straight after the inevitable endo :D


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 Post subject: Re: Trackers
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 4:27 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
Posts: 994
Location: Near Wendover Bucks
I remember seeing 'Tracker' in the 70s & early 1980s. They were always ridden by teenage boys and those very wide cow-horn handlebars always looked impractical from a road cyclists point of view. I remember wondering what kind of riding they were used for as I mainly saw them in the cities & towns.

I am not sure whether the inspiration for them came from teenagers wanting to copy 'Cycle Speedway' bikes or using their parts to make imitation 'scrambler' motorbikes? I remember that at that time the sport of 'Motorbike Scrambling', as it was known, was often covered on TV together with 'Motorcycle Speedway', and 'Motorbike Trials'.

The topic of Tracker Bicycles seems to have bypassed the UK cycle historians the only reference to them I know of is in Tony Hadland's recent book on Bicycle design. There he references a 1961 BBC programme and shows a photo of three teenagers and their 'Bogwheeler' bikes. I guess that despite their nationwide popularity 'Trackers' were of little interest to the cycling establishment and press.

There were some attempts to produce commercial versions of these bikes, namely the Vindec Trekker and Halford's Trackstar, but why pay out for something when you can make your own for less? The best known manufactured bike of this tradition was the 1981 Raleigh Bomber that came fitted with US 26" balloon tyres. However, it was only Geoff Apps who as well as 2" wide knobbly tyres, added reinforced frames, powerful brakes and wide-range derailleur gears to the mix. Unfortunately for him, he did this just a few years before the US mountain bikes started arriving in Britain.
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1960s Tracker.jpg
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phillips speedtrack innerpages 600.jpg
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Geoff Apps' 1960s vindec Tracker.jpg
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Vindec First MTB.jpg
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1968 Geoff's Raleigh Explorer Tracker.jpg
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83 Bomber.jpg
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It's been wonderful to hear all the recollections of these bikes that history has forgotten. Keep them coming, as if these stories don't get written down an important part of the cycling history of Britain will be lost forever.

Photos of Tracker bikes are rare, so if you do have old photos post them here. 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Trackers
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:56 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
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Location: Near Wendover Bucks
I grew up in Liverpool the 1960s & & 70s, knew nothing at the time of 'Cycle Speedway but clearly remember seeing teenager lads riding 'Tracker' bikes. I also remember the Saturday afternoon sports programmes, Frank Bough and Grandstand on the BBC, and Dicky Davies and World of Sport on ITV and the motorbike events they covered especially speedway & scrambling. There was also BBC 'Kickstart' motororcycle trials on Friday evening.

So was the 'Tracker' bike craze due to young people wanting to have a go at these motor-sports? In which case it wouldn't necessarily need to spread systematically from town to town but just be something that young people into motor cycle sport did to emulate the stars of the sport.

However, given that Cycle -Speedway bikes had no brakes and so were not street safe or legal, what did the thousands of young people involved in Cycle-Speedway ride when they weren't competing. And could their modified road bikes explain the origins of the tracker bike?

It appears that only early Cycle-Speedway were fitted with cow-horn handlebars. They apparently made your elbows stick out and made it too easy for an opponent to knock you off course and so were soon replaced by narrower v shaped bars. Apparently, these were unsuited to riding long distances but were fine for the short duration Cycle-Speedway heats.

So were cow-horn handlebars used because they resembled motorbike handlebars, or simply because they were more comfortable for the longer journeys undertaken by 'Tracker' bike riders?


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:21 am 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:44 pm
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Location: Rushden......ish
I think ours were built to resemble "Scramblers" and we rode them in some old disused gravel pits in the woods seeing how far or high we could jump them.
Good times :)


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:49 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
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Location: Near Wendover Bucks
Gruff wrote:
I think ours were built to resemble "Scramblers" and we rode them in some old disused gravel pits in the woods seeing how far or high we could jump them.
Good times :)

Thanks Gruff.

I wonder whether 1950s/60s Saturday afternoon TV like this inspired it?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhuZk5q0qCs&


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:27 pm 
NE, North and West Yorks AEC
NE, North and West Yorks AEC
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Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:33 pm
Posts: 2286
Location: By the sea
Gruff wrote:
I think ours were built to resemble "Scramblers" and we rode them in some old disused gravel pits in the woods seeing how far or high we could jump them.
Good times :)


What Gruff says x2

We used to build them from scrap bikes, 3 speed rear hub, straightened forks, Knobbly tyres, small chain ring/short cranks, widest bars you could get you hands on and just a rear brake, we rode them the same way as mountain bikes are ridden (Struggle uphill race downhill).

Our inspiration came from our Dads, they were into scrambling and we used to go with them, but there was a cycle speedway track 1/2 mile from my house.

As to where the name came from, I always thought it was because you rode tracks on the moors and tracks in the woods etc hence Trackers, time wise this was 69 to 73. Times like this I wished there was some one around with a camera...


cheers kaya


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:06 pm 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:25 pm
Posts: 994
Location: Near Wendover Bucks
kaya wrote:
Times like this I wished there was some one around with a camera...


Thanks Kaya.

There are plenty of Cycle-Speedway pictures and anecdotes on the internet and even a few film clips, but hardly anything relating to Tracker bikes. But then the Cycle-Speedway tradition continued into the internet age whilst the Tracker bike tradition disappeared with the introduction of the US mountain bikes from 1984 onward. There are probably lots of old photos in the albums stored in people's lofts. Maybe someone will read this and post some here. Meanwhile below are a few more I have found online.
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Tracker 1965 1.jpg
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Tracker  john-wheelie.jpg
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Tracker SV102651.jpg~original.jpg
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Tracker  Avon_Tyres.jpg
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File comment: Is it a modern single speed mountain bike?
Or is it derived from a much older tradition?

Modern Tracker IMG_0135-1.jpg
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File comment: Someone is still making them!
Modern Tracker IMG_0133_2.jpg
Modern Tracker IMG_0133_2.jpg [ 77.27 KiB | Viewed 1137 times ]

In retrospect, I can understand how the Tracker bike tradition could have led to Raleigh Cycle's decision around 1983 to not to build mountain bikes because they believed that mountain biking would be a short lived fad. After all they and others had tried for decades to sell cheap Tracker derived machines without any great success. So why should much more expensive mountain bikes be any different. By 1985 when they brought out their first mountain bike the Raleigh Maverick, they had already lost the market to the new companies like Muddy Fox, Saracen and Specialized.


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