My Dad's R O Harrison

David G

Retro Newbie
Hi Everyone, I've just started looking at my late Dad's R O Harrison with a view to getting it roadworthy and pedalling it around Manchester! It's a special bike for me as back in the 70s this is the bike he always rode, He had great stories of his 3 month trip on the bike around Europe in the 1950s. I need to do a bit of research around the dates of this tour and whether he bought the bike new or not.

This will be my first classic renovation and I'll be keeping it tatty just like he used to ride it with a view to keeping everything as original as I can yet making it roadworthy. Everything that has bearings in it has a load of play!

So far it looks very original with black paint, hand painted RO Harrison decals, GB brake levers, Huret 5 speed shifter, Brompton B8 pedals, Sturmey Archer dynamo, Apex Grand prix pump, Chater Lea crank, Dunlop rims, Shimano 600 derailleur, Brookes saddle, 5 speed with a fixed single speed on the opposite side. I even have one bar end stopper.

Can anyone tell me any information about the bike? Maybe the model and year of manufacture? So far I have only uncovered 3 digits of the frame number ' 129.'

Is there anything on it which is not original?

Any help, advice, encouragement gratefully received.




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Retro Guru
Beautiful! That should clean up nicely, with a great patina remaining.

I know nothing about this particular brand, but can tell you that the rear derailleur is too new, and a later replacement. Not sure about the Huret shift lever, but if that is original, the rear derailleur would probably have been a Huret as well. The rest looks pretty legit to me.

Great project, and I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me will be along shortly to tell you more about the bike.


Senior Retro Guru
Give it a wipe down , replace all the consumables and ride it
I would try and swap the steel rims for some alloy ones , you might struggle to find period ones but the improved ride quality and stopping power will be worth it


Retro Wizard
Absolutely spot on! I think your plans are perfect - the patina is irreplaceable and you will end up with a lovely characterful bike after a clean.
Like others say I would try to find some secondhand 27" wheels with alloy rims to make it nicer to ride - and if you ever get caught in the rain your guardian angel will thank you as the braking will remain decent.


Senior Retro Guru
The clip type headset usually points to an earlier bike. They were generally used up to the late 30s and most builders switched to the more modern type headsets. Most builders weren't using them in the 50s, although there are some exceptions like FC Parkes, so it's not unheard of. As said, the derailleur is later and the shifter is a bit later too. There are some advert scans in the link below which might help you work out what they were originally fitted with. There's a good chance it could have been 3-speed originally. Your dad might also have ridden fixed gear back in the day.

I had a quick click around and it looks like you need to find a longer number under the bottom bracket somewhere. 6 or 7 digits like here:

Also, if you're new to older bikes, some of these links might help get you started:


David G

Retro Newbie
Thanks everyone for your replies. It's great to see there is so much knowledge and experience out there. I feel very much encouraged to get on with it!