Velo City: Bicycle Culture and City Life

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano’s Moulton Speed

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

Dr Alex Moulton’s unique bicycles are like multi-faceted crystals that reveal more insights the more they are contemplated. Take the time to appreciate them and they will reward you with a renewed appreciation for bicycle design.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

Bicycle design is a deceptively simple subject. It’s possible to be blinkered by the diamond frame and believe it to be the be-all and end-all of frame patterns. Back in the late 50s, however, Dr Moulton spotted what he thought were a few faults.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

Moulton believed the diamond frame was inconvenient to mount, difficult to adjust for different sizes and unsuitable for both sexes. He also thought the ‘ladies’ frame design was structurally compromised because of the lack of a top tube.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

At that time, small-wheeled ‘shopper’ bikes were very popular but, contrary to contemporary thought, without wide low-pressure tyres, Moulton believed them to be uncomfortable, but large wheels took up too much space in the modern household.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

Moulton’s new frame design was released in 1962, touted as ‘The Bicycle Of The Future’ and became an icon of the 60s. It has since evolved into a highly refined — albeit complicated — layout that can still ably challenge the mainstream modern bicycle.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

Racing cyclist, Romano Morelli is the proprietor of Ristorante Romano, “the best cyclist-friendly pizzeria in Dublin” and was seeking an unusual addition to his already eclectic collection of bicycles and contacted the Moulton Bicycle Company.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

He was invited to the factory, adjacent to Alex Moulton’s Jacobean mansion ‘The Hall’ in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. He spent a very wet day riding one of their test bikes and, like a trout in the nearby River Avon, he was hooked.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

This is Romano’s new Speed model, which features the space frame design that first appeared in 1980. Normally Moulton only sell complete bikes but on this occasion they relented to build one using Romano’s 80th Anniversary Campagnolo groupset.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

One of the aspects of the Moulton design is the 20″ wheels with high-pressure tyres, which provide a shorter overall length and make the bike easier to accelerate and to transport. This extra rigidity is offset by a unique suspension system.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

At the rear is the Hydrolastic® rubber spring with adjustable fluid damping and the front incorporates an adjustable leading link front suspension. The intricate frames are hand-brazed at the factory by a team of trusted craftspeople.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed

“The experience of riding the bike is a complete surprise;” testifies Romano, “the handling is precise and nimble… not what you would expect from something with such small wheels.” We’re dying to give one a go now. Thanks very much, Romano.

Moulton Bicycle Company

Big thanks to Old Velos and Andrea Virgillito for the photos. Check out Colourbolt’s Moulton X-Black for more triangulated eye-candy.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Romano's Moulton Speed