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Historic trike hits the road

PUBLISHED: 01:31 27 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 March 2010

WITH wheels the height of a teenager and a frame the size of a car, it is not the kind of bicycle you can easily slip onto a train.

But with only ten or less left in the world, the Rudge Sociable bicycle is of priceless value to John Malseed.

WITH wheels the height of a teenager and a frame the size of a car, it is not the kind of bicycle you can easily slip onto a train.

But with only ten or less left in the world, the Rudge Sociable bicycle is of priceless value to John Malseed.

The bicycle collector, from Dedham, has worked non-stop during the past three years to restore one of the antique bicycles for a museum in Scotland.

After hours of painstaking research and studying dozens of illustrations, the 118-year-old quad-cycle is finally complete and has made its debut on the streets of Dedham.

The bike, thought to be worth several thousand pounds, was discovered in southern Ireland a few years ago.

As a full-time bicycle restorer, Mr Malseed, 57, was asked to rebuild it by a Scottish museum and spent the next three years building parts and searching out diagrams from museums.

"It took about three or four attempts before it looked like it should," he said.

"It's the biggest project I've undertaken. It takes up the room of a small motorcar.

"At first it looked like a heap of bits but over a period of time it turned into something quite fantastic.

"It's a lovely thing to put together. It's just been a pleasure to do it."

Mr Malseed, who lives with his wife Annette, and daughter Samantha, 12, first started collecting and restoring veteran bicycles in 1963.

He has since restored more than 100 bicycles and has the same number stored in his house as part of his collection.

Despite the large space needed for his hobby, Mr Malseed, whose cycle collection includes a Penny Farthing, said his family is very accepting and see the cycles as "part of the décor".

The Rudge Sociable had been stored in Mr Malseed's workshop until now and will have to be stripped and re-assembled so it can fit on a car roof when it is taken to Edinburgh.

Although he has spent three years building the cycle, Mr Malseed said he doesn't feel too devastated about its departure.

"I will be glad of the room again," he said.

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