Swedish attack bicycle m/105A

Well, to be honest. It is not effective as an attack bicycle, more a excellent and quick transportation on small roads in the forest.

Sweden, as many other country’s have been using bicycles as a effective and quick transportation for the military forces for ages. In Sweden bicycles was mainly mused by the infantry, but bicycles were in all military branches. The air force, the navy as well.

In the army there were dedicated bicycle platoons with all sorts of configurations of bicycles. Some had mounting possibility for hooking up a trailer. There was a medical version for a stretcher being placed between two bicycles (sounds completely dangerous). One version even had a platform mounted on the frame where guard dogs could sit while riding along with the rider.

From the start the Swedish military named the bicycle after the year they were introduced in the service. The first model was m/1901, the m stands for “model” and 1901 the year. After that there was m/1927, m/30, m42, m/104, m/105 and finally m/111. Yes, I know. It is strange that they changed from using the year with four digits as model number to only use two digits and finally end up with a 100 series. Perhaps to confuse the enemy?


Monark made m/105A in it’s natural environment


A previous owner had painted 107 on the toolbox as well as F22 on the front mudguard at some point in time as a joke. F22 was the name of the Swedish air flotilla that was set up in Africa as UN forces between 1961 and 1963

With those old military bicycles comes lots of memories for many of us who did the compulsory military service. During the 20th century every young man (some women to) was drafted to serve about 7-10 months in a military regiment. Infantry, armour, navy, coastal artillery, air force and so on. Every one of these branches had these bicycles, so almost every one have used old bicycles in the classical green colour.

During some transports there used to be something like towing. A line with handles behind a tractor or a lorry where the bicycle riders used to hold on, they were placed in a zigzag pattern. In Sweden that was a common practise for large transportations. Madness, but it worked. Many of the former military service personel gets nostalgic when seeing towing after a tractor, or just by seeing a old military bicycle the memories comes back of the morning roll call, yellow pea soup and pancakes on Thursdays.


Chain wheel and detail of the handle that are mounted on the frame for carrying the bicycle

All those memories. I was told by an elderly family member long ago that when he was did his service during the war he fell asleep while riding his bicycle during a manoeuvre. Suddenly he had fallen out of the ranks and found him self on a field.  My father told me that when he was doing his military refresher training back in the late 1960’s being placed in the armoured forces.

One day they as the all were sitting and waiting for something (it was a lot of waiting in the military service). When a tank suddenly rolled up the street where they were. On the middle of the road someone had left a military bicycle. The tank commander in the conning tower noticed the bicycle. The tank rolled over the bicycle, stopped and made a pivot turn (in Swedish it is called a centre turn, meaning the tanks left and right tracks are running opposite each other making the tank turn around its own axis) right above the bicycle.

After the turn was complete, the commander ordered the driver to drive on. On the ground remained the twisted and totally destroyed bicycle. The commander was the famous race driver Picko Troberg.


Military marked (three crowns logo) original tires


Trelleborg T-nabb tires


Toolbox on the luggage rack with the makers name, Monark

When I did my 15 months military service in the navy, we in the staff had military bicycles on the base to move around quickly. I used an old m/42 with leather saddle, wooden handles and a front brake manoeuvred by a large metal bar that was integrated in the handlebars. It was so comfortable to ride that I borrowed it many times when riding to the shop outside the base. We even borrowed the bicycles one summer day when we were “awol” (absent without official leave) and went for a swim in the sea. Packing sandwiches and a towel in our military bags, strapping them on the luggage racks and riding to the beach. The officers were not so happy, but it was a really nice day.


Front light and detail of the spring on the frame that keeps the handlebars straight when being lifted


Even the military needs a bicycle bell. The classic “Pärlan / pearl” design in military green


Details of the protection frame for the rear light and the m/42 design of luggage rack with tool box

In fact I was so pleased with the m/42 bicycle I used in the navy that I a few years later went to a military surplus shop just outside Stockholm and bought an old decommissioned military m/42 bicycle. that still got hay stuck in the hubs. I had it for many years until it was sadly stolen.

Many years later a friend asked me if I wanted his old military bicycle. He thought it was to heavy and clumsy for him to use. I took a look at it and discovered it to be an m/105A version. A later version of the m/42. I realized right away that the rear break was in desperate need of service. The bicycle sounded like an old tram when braking and the rear wheel locked up at the slightest thought of using the rear break. I rode the bicycle home in the night avoiding breaking.

Later that week I dismounted the rear break cleaned the break drum, the break pads, lubricated all the parts that had not been lubricated sin 1972. Mounted it all together and it worked like a charm.


Fichtel & Sachs drum brake model HR 90 V.

The m/105A was made my the bicycle maker Monark in the 60’s, made from surplus parts both from the other bicycle makers Crescent and Husqvarna. I have no idea how many that were made, but since they are almost everywhere it must have been enormous amounts of bicycles in the military services. The advantage with these old bicycles is that parts are available almost anywhere, documents and instructions are easy to find. After all, the kids that were drafted had to do all the service them self, so they needed instructions for it all.


The content of the toolbox, it is all there except the bicycle pump…


…of course marked with three crowns…


…as well as the steering column

Later on I guess more or less all bicycles were decommissioned from their long service. Surplus and traders made the bicycles spread all over Sweden. I remember that the m/42 I bought back in 1992 costed me about £25. They were cheep and sturdy bicycles.

First they where everywhere in the military services, then they where everywhere in the civilian. You can still find them, in apartment bicycle storages, out in bicycle stands in the city. Almost every bicycle shop has one for sale.


With 26″ balloon tires you can ride on any surface and still experience comfort in the saddle

If maintained properly, it is an reliable and great bicycle that can take a lot of abuse.
Only being crushed under a tank might be a problem.

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London Tweed Run 2018

10th London Tweed Run was held on Saturday the 5th of May 2018.

The London event is an enormously popular event with about 1000 participants each year. It is said to be the original tweed cycling event like this. Since there are now so many people that want to ride their bicycles while dressed in their finest tweeds, it has become necessary to sell advance tickets to those who want to participate. The event is so popular that all the tickets completely sell out online in a matter of seconds. A few years ago the tickets were sold out in 90 seconds. This year it only took 4 minutes until all tickets were sold.

I have been wanting to join London Tweed Run for a few years just to have been there, but it was never possible and I never tried really hard. But this year it was the 10th anniversary, I decided to try to get hold of a ticket. After trying to access the site on-line I found out that all tickets were sold out again. But there was a message letting me know that – if I wanted to – I could join a waiting list in case of any tickets were available later. I signed up just for fun and did not think more of that.
Three weeks later, I got an email saying that there was one ticket available if I wanted it. I bought it without hesitation.


My hat and some refreshments before the flight to London

Now, the logistics needed to be solved. I booked a hotel. That was easy. But how should I get my bicycle to London from Stockholm? I looked up different companies that offered bicycle as luggage on air planes. But then the question remained, how should I get the bicycle in a huge box from the airport to the hotel? There must be a better way.

After some research I discovered a business called Tally-Ho Cycle Tours. After some email exchanges with Mr Harris there, I booked a black 28″ Pashley Roadster bicycle for me to collect on the actual day of the event.

The day came, I went down in the London underground and travelled the tube while dressed in tweed, listening to old jazz in my headphones just to get myself in the mood. I arrived early at Tally-Ho cycles and met Mr Harris, a very nice and kind man. He brought me my bicycle for the day, adjusted it so it would fit me. While I was At Tally-Ho, I saw others dressed in tweed, trying their rented bicycles.


Bicycles with baskets at Tally-Ho cycles


Pashely roadsters waiting to be a part of the Tweed Run

Since I was an international participant I needed to be early at the Tweed Run start area to receive my starting number and a welcome pack of documents with information about the ride. On my way to the start area that was located outside the Imperial War Museum, I spotted yet more tweed riders and also a group of ladies dressed in 1940’s style clothes, all heading towards the Imperial War Museum. I was not alone. It always feels better when seeing other ‘Tweedians’ when one is in a new place. It assures me that I am at the right location.


Being one among the first at the start


I met Francisco at the start

It has happened before, it will happen again. I was early, really early. I was among one of the first 10 people at location. The ladies I had noticed earlier were setting up distribution points to hand out the rider packages. I was in the right place.

There I was, standing in the park with my bicycle and reading a book in the lovely summer weather, waiting to collect my rider package. I met Francisco, a man from Portugal but living in Belgium that I had seen earlier at Tally-Ho Cycles. We chatted about the event and where we were from. As we were talking, Martin from Germany joined us along with his wife. Then Lisbeth and Stefan from Netherlands turned up. We were truly an international group, talking bicycles and tweed and just having fun.


The sun is coming out, it is going to be a lovely day


Tweed and bicycles


Marin and I are admiring his original -50’s Adler

That is the Tweed Run spirit: diverse people meeting and talking and having fun. Lisbeth, Stefan and Francisco had all been at a London Tweed Run before. But for Martin and me it was the first time, in fact it was to be Martin’s first tweed event.

As we talked, around us there were reporters conducting interviews and many other tweed riders talking bicycles and clothes.

Suddenly we heard the sound of loud horns and a man shouting. It was time to begin the 12 mile long bicycle ride around London. Almost 1000 riders peddling down the narrow roads. It was fun, I met many lovely people along the way.


Time for the start, around 1000 riders


Falcon enamel cups, tandem bicycle, picnic and a baby on board.


Westminster bridge with the parliament and a covered Elizabeth tower (Big Ben).


The marshals did an excellent work guiding us riders around London


Climbing the hill at The Waldorf hotel

We rode across Westminster Bridged and headed to Covent Garden and then along the streets up to Russell Square, just beside British Museum. Pedestrians were waving, smiles and happy faces accompanied by hundreds of bicycle bells chiming. But now it was time for a tea break!


Gentleman with a boater hat having a break


A happy girl, with a lovely outfit. The barre with feathers are simply adorable.


Russel square park and Tweed Run tea break


Dashing chaps


Style, elegance and a positive attitude. An example for us all


Interviews, this time by German reporters

It was a lovely break within a glorious setting. The green park, trees creating an idyllic location for this event. The tea wagon was pouring out tea in lovely cups. That is where I met the Norwegian Tweed Run delegation. We talked and had fun.


Tea in the park


More tweed chaps

After refreshing ourselves with the tea it was time to set off again. Now we headed towards the area of Marylebone and rode straight across London Zoo to enter Camden Town where we all rode along the tow-path beside the canal. Now, that was an adventure. Narrow, water one one side, pedestrians on the other. We were told to ride on a single file, not stopping to take photos. There was simply no room.


The adventures canal stretch. Lovely, but narrow

In fact, I was insulted by an elderly man who was annoyed by the appearance all the riders. Having chosen not to ride too close to the edge of the canal, I took a line a bit closer than normal to the bench where the old man was sitting.

“That’s right, cycle a bit closer you fat bastard” I head the man yell at me.

There was no time for stopping and talking to the man. Onwards!


Hair and matching bicycle


A marshal guiding us


I guess that France was represented on this event


Spring and pre-summer in London


Camden town by bicycle

After Camden we entered St: Pancras where we had a picnic at Gasholder park. There were food vendors nearby and a shop for drinks and simpler food further down the road. I was taking a rest when I meet Martin again, we all had been separated during the ride. We talked for a bit, he said that he was going to buy something to drink. I said that I could keep an eye on his vintage German made Alder bicycle while he went away.


Gasholder park, not so romantic picnic location

After a while he came back, he had bought along a sandwich, water and some crisps for us to eat. That was very kind of him. I thanked him deeply. Then we sat there and talked in German in London at an tweed event. That is what makes happy memories!

We later met Lisbeth and Stefan again, but sadly lost track of Francisco. Suddenly we heard a loud cheer! It was then we realized that there had been a group photo opportunity. We and many other riders were still standing in the shade of the gas clocks when they took the photo. It was a pity that there was no better information about the time for the photo.


Time for the final section of the Tweed Run before the finish

Then it was time to make our way again. Bicycle bells were chiming, horns hooting and people cheering. Time for the final leg of the ride. Up and down the hills of Clerkenwell, where Martin and I joined up for the rest of the journey. We laughed and had a great time. Suddenly we were at the finish line at Spa Fields Park. I parked my bicycle and almost directly found Mr Harris from Tally-Ho, they were collecting their bicycles from there as a service for those who would like a gin and tonic at the party.


Finish line at Bourne & Hollingsworth at Spa Fields park in Clerkenwell


Now that is the image of an English gentleman

Sadly I needed to go, I was about to meet a long time friend later that evening. After all it was my first time in London for 17 years, we had much to catch up with and a long ride in front of us.

In the end, London Tweed Run was a great event. Happy, friendly great looking people. The use of official marshals who stood on corners and directed all of us was a great feature. Also the relaxed atmosphere with riders smiling and chatting with drivers of cars, buses and taxis. I would say that almost everyone adjusted to the situation.


Quite Brittish

I have been to many tweed rides. It was fun to experience the original one. How was it arranged, how they prepared the event and other small details. The only disadvantages I noticed was that the ride alongside the canal was too narrow for so many riders and perhaps, looking back, a mistake. Also, that so many riders were not aware that there was a group photo taking place along the route and missed being in it for posterity. Why didn’t they take the group photo at Imperial War Museum, like last year? That would have been calmer and easier to gather all participants on one photo.

Also the location of the lunch break at Gasholder Park was a bit odd. Seeing all these wonderfully attired people sitting on blankets directly on old concrete was not so charming. Only the marshals and other exclusive members got to sit on the grass at the Gasholder Park. If the lunch had instead been held along with the tea break at Russell Square, there would have been perfect scenery for this particularTweed Run.

Blankets on the grass, tea, sandwiches, tweed and bicycles. That would have been lovely!

Thank you for a long, lovely, unique day!

Cheers!

 

PS: I like to thank Mr Withers for all help along the way, before, during and after the event.