Minor British Institutions: The Moulton bicycle

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The Independent Online

He may not have re-invented the wheel, but Alex Moulton took a lot on when he decided to redesign the bicycle 50 years ago. Like them or loathe them, all the small-wheeled city bikes you see today are a bit of an homage to the original Moulton "F frame" design, though few can be as comfortable as the Moulton, which boasts its own unique suspension system. (Dr Moulton's family were "in rubber", you see, and Alex also invented various suspension systems for British cars from the Mini to the Metro.)

The Moulton was launched in 1962, and soon became almost as much a symbol of the Sixties as the mini-skirt and The Beatles, though it enjoys less resonance today. Anyway, the small wheels make the machine extremely manoeuvrable in traffic, and the racing version proves you can enjoy quite a turn of speed.

In testament to its enduring appeal, a Moulton bike can still be bought new, but it is priced as what it is – a fine piece of British engineering. Sadly, the ultra-simple and elegant Moulton 50 limited-edition has sold out, but many other exciting variants are just waiting for you to mount them.

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