Swallow Archive

Swallow Bespoke Bicycle Archive

We have some interesting things in our archive: old catalogues, photos and magazine reviews. We be loading them over the coming months.

Here's a review of a Swallow Columbus Max frame, the stablemate to the one we have in the showroom and at Bespoked Bristol.  And it's still being ridden by it;s original owner.


Bicycle Action, January 1989: Swallow Columbus Max 

BTW the journalist may have test ridden the bike during a "winter hard man's ride" as he says, mentioning that the bike had been built for "someone with a shorter back", but quite forgetting that the 'shorter back' belonged to a 6 foot tall woman.  The woman is Sarah Kragl (picture below in a recent triathlon), who still enjoys riding the bike in Southern Germany where she now lives.  The frame had a "Raspberry" makeover from the original modernist paint stripes. 

And standing the test of time the fast back seat cluster that the reviewer commented: " I personally wouldn't like to bet on how this affects the strength of the frame" has lost his bet.  It's still in one piece, no cracks or creaks and still clamps as it did in 1988!

Sarah commented:

After many happy years riding my Swallow through the English (mainly Essex) countryside I moved to Bonn in Germany in 1997. The first few years were spent setting up home and giving birth to 2 girls. I sadly had little time to exercise and so my Swallow spent most of the first 5 years in Germany in the cellar collecting dust.

However, after moving to Bavaria in 2002 I managed to get back on my bike and was able to enjoy the beautiful countryside that this part of Germany has to offer. As I became fitter I decided to compete in a few Triathlons. It was then that I realised how bicycle technology had advanced! Suddenly my Swallow seemed like a bit of a steel dinosaur in amongst all the carbon fibre frames!! When taking part in the 2009 Regensburg Triathlon I was pedalling hard against the wind and suddenly there was someone riding next to me. He looked at my bike and said “And I thought I was the only competitor riding a steel frame!” 

I now ride my Swallow just for pleasure. It still looks great, It’s comfortable, reliable and still very unique!”



Mounting Biking UK July and August 1989: Swallow Griffon

A recently discovered original Swallow Griffon featured in MBUK has come to light (and will be heading to us for a refurbishment) still has most of the original Campagnolo mountain bike equipment, yes that's right, Campagnolo mountain bike equipment!  Just see the photos in teh review showing a U brake on the forks.

Just to clarify how we worked and named our frames back then: Frames bearing the "Swallow" name were only ever been as one off bespoke frames for individual customers we continue this today). We always used Reynolds or Columbus tubing (we'd choose tubing to suit rider and style) quality or hand cut lugs or lugless construction plus Cinelli cast bottom bracket shells and fork crowns. Certainly while we were based in Essex 1981-91 Swallow frames were built by Peter Bird or Robert Wade.  Swallow frame numbers are prefixed SW and are sequential.

Our frames with other bird names: Toucan (tandem), Giffon, Merlin, Ptarmigan, Wren, Swift, Osprey and Puffin were all what could be called semi-custom with set designs using standard tube sets, standard lugs or lugless construction, pressed steel bottom brackets, standard braze-ons (with  some options at an up-charge.The frames were made to measure, rather than fully bespoke and were still made by Peter or Robert, with some of the work was done by apprentices and other employees. At the time these were still very high quality frames compared to other sectors of the industry, with the mountain bike frames being rather leading edge and radical.


Also here is a Swallow Merlin, with all it's original equipment and '80s smoked paint. With no disc brakes available in 1989 we often fitted Sturmey Archer drum brakes for all weather braking performance, and neat looks.


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