Dawes Kingpin Bicycle 1967

“Like dogs, bicycles are social catalysts that attract a superior category of people.” Chip Brown

I bought a Dawes Kingpin in 2012 on a bit of a whim, I had one in 1969, I was twelve, the first bike I ever bought with my own money, paid for mostly by working at a butchers shop in Paddington, then later at Oakshott’s off license, and paper rounds.
I don’t know why I decided to go down memory lane like this but it seemed like a good idea at the time. On doing some research I discovered that the bike I bought new in mid 1970,  was actually an earlier late 60’s model. On further inspection the date on the Sturmey Archer hub is February 1968 so I expect that’s about right, my original bike came from a bike shop along the Upper Richmond Road in Sheen, SW London, I can not remember the name of the shop. I do remember how much it cost £38-15s-3d. That included all the extras, rear Pletscher rack, Dynamo hub lights, bell, as well as a Tartan bike bag.

A Page From the Dawes Kingpin Brochure

Two catalogue pictures of the Dawes Kingpin the top one form the 1960’s the bottom on from the early 1970’s

I know that I wanted dark blue, with the aluminium holed chain guard or “dash dot dash” as they became to be known, a Dynohub, lights, three speed, spring loaded Pletscher rack and embossed Dawes head tube badge. I eventually found one the right colour and year on eBay, they a vary a bit with slight modification changes over the production years, and I think they used to vary within years/models as far as parts were concerned depending on what parts they had on the shelf.

Actually the seller was selling two as a job lot, I won the bidding and collected them. They were both in a bit of a state, the photographs were not a lot of help, the items were not mis-described I hoped they were going to in better condition. I should have done a bit more research, the blue one I wanted had everything as listed except for the head badge, no matter I’ll wait to see if one comes up.

Above: The two bikes I bought on eBay.
I set about taking the blue one apart, leaving the other purple later mid 70’s (1975) one as a “donor” bike and also as a pattern just in case I forgot how to put things back in the correct order.  Initially all I wanted to do was to give everything a good clean up, get rid of the rust, polish the frame, change the tyres, it soon became clear that this project was not going to be as easy as I first thought.

I bit of rust on the frame.


A tray of parts.

More research revealed that getting paint off a bike and repainting was going to be quite difficult and I was about to abandon the project when I heard about Mercian cycles, who, as well as manufacture their own brand of bikes restore bikes and frames too. I got a quote, and sent the bike off to Mercian, I also got them to refurbish the bottom bracket and headset too, whilst they were at it, just to save me a bit of work. This cost quite a bit of money, and more than I originally had intended to spend, but it is done now and it they did a truly stunning job of the paintwork.
A few weeks after buying the bikes, Whilst doing more research I found another Kingpin on eBay, this was well knackered up old thing with damaged front forks but it had the correct head badge on it, so I bought that too, just for the head badge, I thought it might have some decent wheels on it, but they were worse than the ones I had. Someone else was also selling an aluminium holed chain guard that looked in better condition than the one I had so I bought that too.
Dawes Bicycle Head badge on Blue Dawes Kingpin.
The beautiful head badge.
The dented aluminium chain guard.
I have just spent the last few days cleaning up the chrome and aluminium parts and sorting out the brakes, and wheels. The wheels have been a bit of a challenge. I have three sets of wheels from three bikes, and they were all pretty grim with rust and and pitted chrome, damaged spokes, perished tyres, tubes and rim tape. I chose the best two and cleaned them up, then took them to my LBS to get then checked over and spokes replaced. I wanted to use one of the two front wheels that had a dynohub on them but the rims where too far gone, so I’ve decided not to bother with the dynohub and use the wheel that does not have it. If I recall correctly the dynamo lights were not very good any way even by 1970’s standards, and I think I replaced them with Ever-Ready battery lights back then.
Some of the pitted rusty chrome before clean up.
I’m very pleased with the way the chrome and aluminium has come up, it’s not perfect but it will do. I could try and have some of the bits re-chromed but I have spent enough time and money on this bike and just want to get it finished.
Examples of the cleaned and polished chrome and chain guard.
The cranks and pedals were pitted with rust, again with wire wool, GT85 and Autosol polished up nicely, took a while thought getting into each tooth. The chain perhaps should have been replaced, but I de-greased it with motorcycle de-greaser left it for 48 hours , wire brushed it and removed all the dirt, the washed with Flash floor cleaner, then lubricated it, it runs perfectly. I couldn’t find or feel anything wrong with Sturmey Archer 3 gear hub (1968) so I put some 3in1 oil in it and left well alone, just cleaned up the outside and polished it.
The mudguards were a bit tatty, I was worried that they would not clean up, but with some GT85 fine wire wool they look great, the brake calipers have come up well, too, I cleaned every nut, bolt and washer on them, in fact on the bike.
Mucky mudguards with broken rear reflector.
Smarter Mudguards, cleaned up brake calipers, with new old stock brake cables and white ribbed cable sleeves. Reflector from one of the donor bikes.

Read about my Raleigh Twenty refurbish here.

A day out in the spring sunshine.

Another eccentric ride today on a stunningly beautiful spring day.

Some of the Dawes Kingpin and Raleigh Twenty FB group decided to do another group ride on our 40-50 year old shopping bikes.

I bunged the bike in the back of the car drove to Staines and got the train to Clapham Station where the meeting point was. Five of us gathered two on Raleigh Twenty’s and three on Kingpins.

We rode north first to the Thames and along the Thames path to mouth of the Wandle and broadly followed the Wandle Way riding through Wandsworth, Merton and to Carshalton Ponds, we stopped at a couple of places for coffee and cake on the way.

South bank of the River Thames looking towards Wandsworth Bridge

The route was mostly on traffic free roads and through parks, spring was in the air and it was nice to escape all the doom and gloom.

The Raleigh Twenty’s and the Kingpins at the mouth of the Wandle.

One of our stops was in Garrett Park, off Garret Lane, Wandsworth behind the old police Station, there’s a cycle speedway track there, I challenge everyone to do a individual time trial of one lap, a bit of silk fun, the Kingpin riders took the top three places.

Ready for the off.
My 1967 Dawes Kingpin by the river Wandle.

I saw Koi Carp, Herons, Geese today, folks where out enjoy the parks with their families and dogs.

As well as geese there were Koi Carp in this pond.

On one of the traffic free paths someone spotted an abandoned bike, waiting to be collected for the tip, a few of us liberated a some parts off of it for future bike projects.

After lunch at Carshalton ponds we made our way to Croydon station where we went our separate ways home.

Carshalton Ponds.
A couple of dodgy look characters waiting for the train at Croydon Station.
The route

Raleigh Twenty & Dawes Kingpin group ride.

The internet is strange, who’d a thought twenty years ago folks would meet a load of people that they only know (sort of, a bit) on the internet.
Well that’s what six of us did today, The Dawes Kingpin and Raleigh Twenty FB group ride from Havant Station in Hampshire to Hayling Island and back , four Kingpins, one Raleigh Twenty and a Moulton and riders turned up on a grey dry day for a conversational ride and swapping bike stories. The weather was grey and little windy when we left Havant Railway Station car park along the Hayling Billy Trail, an old railway route.

The bikes at the start waiting to go.
My Kingpin at some old railway crossing gates.

“This popular cycling and walking trail uses the Hayling Billy Coastal Path which runs along the west coast of Hayling Island near Havant.
The trail gives fabulous views of Langstone Harbour which is an internationally important site for its wildfowl and wading birds. Also watch out for brent geese, oyster catchers”.

Brent Geese

Onwards we visited Sinah Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, where many service people lost their lives in the Second World War.

Sinah Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery

We stopped off lunch after getting the Hayling Island-Eastney Ferry at the Marina Bar, then we set off to make our way back to the start and a well earned beer at the Robin Hood pub in Havant.

Three of the bikes on the ferry.
Some of the chaps on the ‘Pride of Hayling
One Twenty, Three Kingpins.

Totally daft but fun day out with some like minded eccentrics of whom the only thing in common is the fondness of rescuing and restoring old Raleigh and Dawes shopping bicycles. It’s a funny old world.

A short break.
Two very smart restored Dawes Kingpins
The only Raleigh Twenty on this ride.
Oh, and the twenty five year old Moulton.
The route, a little over 17 miles.

A little ride on the Raleigh Twenty.

I’ve mentioned before that a few months ago I bought a Raleigh Twenty for £10.00 locally from an eBay seller.

The saddle has to go.

Up until today I hadn’t had a chance to really look at it or ride it, so I pumped up the old tyres that are almost perished put some oil on the chain and took it for a short ride to the local post office. A 4.5 mile trip which compared to the Dawes Kingpin I found cramped and uncomfortable, not helped by the fact that I had the seat post so I high that when I went over a bump the thing fell off down the road.

The light blue colour is rather nice.

The saddle needs replacing, they were never that comfortable, and this 42 year old thing had seen better days, held together with Gaffer Tape, a hope and prayer.

It looks quite nice in the early spring sunshine.

The Raleigh Twenty is most definitely the poorer cousin to the Kingpin in almost every way, the brakes are thin steel callipers, with equally poor levers, the chrome wheels look cheap, the only good things on this bike are the Sturmey Archer three speed hub gears and lever which are working perfectly. the Swiss made Pletscher spring rear rack/carrier and I rather like the trade mark Raleigh Heron chainring.

This particular model didn’t come with a kick stand.

Dawes Kingpin-A Memory Stirs.

What a twit!

1970, 12/13 years old I was cycling from Paddington to Willesden Junction along the A404 Harrow Road one sunny evening on the way back from my after school job, the traffic was flowing and this being a ride I did every day I had the cocky confidence of youth, I knew the timing of the lights, I knew the road, I was using “The Force” before anyone knew what it was, it was a ride I often tried to do without touching the handlebars all the way home, about 4 miles.

I was riding along the Harrow Road (I think it used to be the A40 back then), I saw a Ford Escort that wasn’t going very fast I thought, for a split moment, then in that same moment I realised it wasn’t moving at all. Me, and my shiny new Dawes Kingpin smashed in to the rear of the shiney new Ford Escort. As I was disengaging myself and dusting myself down the owner of the Escort came running out of the Wimpey, speaking to me in a manner that I’m sure would be inappropriate for a teenagers ears in 1970, checked his car over and told me to piss off. He didn’t seem at all concerned for my well being. Oh well, that was 1970’s I guess. I did feel a bit stupid, and my dynamo light got bent, but thats all.

I’ve never told anyone of this until today. My mother would’ve gone apeshit if I had told her.

That Dawes Kingpin and I had a lot of adventures.

A Raleigh Twenty.

I recently bought the poor cousin of the Dawes Kingpin, a 1978 Raleigh Twenty.

An eBay find locally I paid £10.00 for it.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, I may restore it, customise it or just service and polish it.

I’ll post here when I know, in the meantime here’s some photos.

The Raleigh Twenty Alpha, the bog standard Twenty with no stand, Dynohub lights and originally no rear rack, though this bike has had a Pletscher rack fitted later.

It’s a nice colour. (Well, It used to be!)

A late seventies graphic and forty years of patina.

I rather like the Raleigh Heron chain ring.

A Kingpin Group Ride

The purpose of today’s trip was to meet a load of (mostly) strangers to ride 50 year old shopping bikes through a bit of London. Odd or what? Most of the folks that turned up were from the Kingpin, Raleigh Twenty, Moulton and Brompton face book groups.

I left home at 6:45 riding my Dawes Kingpin to Didcot Station along the old railway line Sustrans route. Weather was grotty when I left , not raining but windy and drizzling, it was one hell of a tailwind, got to the station in record time for a shopping bike.

The ticket I booked didn’t work, had to buy another and get a refund going on the booked one.

Train was on time but I went to the wrong ending the platform and had to run down to get on the correct carriage.

When I got to Paddington, I had to cycle through Hyde Park, last time I did that on a Kingpin was 1971! It’s changed a bit.

Through Wellington Arch, past Buck House, Birdcage Walk, over Westminster bridge then mostly followed the convoluted route that google was telling me to go. Got to the meeting place to early, so had breakfast and tea.

Eventually folks started to turn up on Kingpins, Bromptons and a couple Moultons but no Raleigh Twentys.

We eventually set off, about 15 of us I think, 9 of us on Kingpins the rest on various small wheelers, over Tower Bridge, along Eastcheap, Cannon Street heading west along The Embankment on to Horse Guards, St James Park, Green Park and Hyde Park, Kensington.

We stopped for a bit of lunch and started heading south by which time it had started to rain, I’m not keen in riding in the rain so I bailed heading back Paddington station where I hoped to get an early train back, unfortunately it was cancelled and I had to wait over an hour for the next one!

Anyway it was nice ride while it was dry, met some delightfully eccentric people who wanted ride small wheel shopping bikes around London.

Hyde Park

Wellington Arch

Buckingham Palace

Westminster Palace being restored.

Westminster Bridge and the London Eye

A water feature near London Bridge Station

The Serpentine lake.

A selection of Kingpins that were on the ride.

Two Moultons and a Brompton, there was another Brompton on the ride that was heavily customised with disc brakes, special suspension and saddle.

24.7 damp miles, fifty year old brakes are completely rubbish on fifty year old chrome wheels.

A Group Ride.

On the 30th September I organised a group ride with some like minded Dawes Kingpin owners. Actually I invited Raleigh Twenty owners too, but they didn’t turn up.

The ride was from Didcot Parkway railway station to Oxford, along mainly off road cycle routes and quiet country lanes.

Six folks turned up on Kingpins of various colours, ages and condition, including one that only the day before had been restored and customised to have 18 gears! (2nd from left).

A motley crew.

Some folks came from the south coast of England to join the fun, I admire their commitment.

We set off at about 11am heading to Abingdon along cycle rout 5 via Sutton Courtney and along the River Thames on the outskirts of the town and stopped off after about 9 miles for coffee in the market square.

A photo opportunity along side the Thames near the Alms houses in Abingdon.

Outside Abingdon town hall.

From there we continued following route 5 to Oxford.

Although the weather was supposed to be wet and the ground was damp we had no rain until we arrived in Oxford by which time we had arrived at a cafe and were undercover.

After lunch the rain had stopped we set off for the return journey pretty much coming back the way we came, taking shelter for a while under Donnington Bridge while a rain shower passed over.

On the way back we stopped at Radley station to drop off one of our riders, then continued back to Didcot.

If you’re interested in these bikes or group rides there’s a Facebook group, click on the link.