Clive Stuart Cycles is perhaps best known for their late sixties - early seventies cycle racing team. The company’s team had many of Britain’s top riders. Among them; Geoff Wiles, Reg Smith, John Clarey, Pete Smith and Reg Barnett. They dominated many of the British Cycling Events and were national team champions in 1968 and 1970. John Clarey had the dubious distinction of being "Le Lanterne Rouge" in the 1968 Tour de France.
The team’s bikes were initially painted in red but are known for the later, bright yellow with black Clive Stuart Cycles graphics. Ken Bird loved the yellow/black combo and designed the company logo.The controversial Biddulph brothers placed a huge importance on the team and were subject to many rumors and speculation about their various activities. Rolls Royce cars, flamboyant spending, and extravangances were not uncommon. A racer at the time commented that he was paid 15 GBP per month while he witnessed CS racers receiving 350 GBP per month.
The resources and energies spent on maintaining the racing team, no doubt was a factor in the closing of Clive Stuart Cycles.
Reg Smith of the Clive Stuart Team is featured in this issue of Cycling and Sporting Cyclist
Clive Stuart Cycles (1968)
Team Composition 1970
Old Advert showing the racing team, staged shot with Geoff Wiles the winner
Aged 22, Wiles was selected to compete with the South of England team in the 1966 Tour of Britain, at that time known as the Milk Race, and he won Stage 6. The next year, he took part in the famous Peace Race through East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia with a team sponsored by the Clive Stuart bike maker, then moved on to the Holdsworth-Campagnolo team in 1971 and won the National Madison Championship with Dave Nie. Geoff won numerous criteriums in the following years before becoming National Road Race Champion in 1976.
Here is a hazy view of Old Ned (Paul) in 1970 on the DS/CS machine, emulating the advert - but in a 4-up team TT - through the middle of Aylesbury!
In this picture are Reg Smith and George Drewell in 1968 riding the dark red flamboyant team bikes with the original jerseys, yellow with black band. Hugh Porter in the foreground on his purple Condor.
Next is Reg Barnett at the Easter Herne Hill track meeting riding against some continental pros and Dave Nie. Note the chrome head lugs. Ken Bird is holding Reg while Dave has Mike Shea supporting him.
This third photo is Geoff Wiles in the Isle of Wight 3-day in 1970 on his yellow team bike with the later yellow with black sleeves jersey. He is following race leader Les West on his equally iconic orange and blue Holdsworth.
The next 4 photos and captions are from Old Ned (Paul Gittins) from the Retrobike forum.
Thanks for sharing these excellent pieces of history.
Old RaceProgram from 1970
above Ken Bird on the right
Simon Bird, son of Ken Bird contributed these items from his late father's CS scrap book. Ken was an ace mechanic and along with his brother Alec served as team managers for the team.
Ken fondly remembered Clive Biddulph as the force behind the team. His note to the left indicates Clive lost his life in a fire set to the hotel that Clive owned. Clive apparently saved his son, Stafford's life during the blaze.
Thank you Simon for sharing these
Where are they now?
Mike Morgan of YellowJersey.org.uk recently shared some of his recollections of the team, some of them very recent. Mike wrote.......
Some of the CS team are still around riding their bikes..
Reg Smith still rides really good time trials, he rode our open 10 last week and did a 22 for 10 miles....not bad for his age He was our guest speaker at last years club dinner and had some great stories about his time with Clive Stuart. I am on good talking terms with Reg and pushed him off in the 10 last week
John Clarey still rides his bike locally and is in a club called the ‘Gemini’ , we met up at an awards dinner last year and he was talking about sprinting to a good finish in the TdFrance, at Bordeaux I think.
I was in the lead car in a star trophy event when he came back as a amateur, he went off the back on a hill about 20 miles from the finish but managed to get back on and get 3rd place......quite a feat at the time
I can also remember riding at Brands Hatch with him and his daughter ....... who would wind people up by talking and saying ‘Dad, shall I just ride round or shall I try and win’
Geoff Wiles has a bike shop in Rochester/Chatham and sponsors a local team
Eric Watts writes in with this update; "The data about Geoff Wiles is out of date. He has now sold his Shop. He has been studying and has a degree in Sports Science.He is a coach for San Fairy Ann CC"
Reg Barnett is still around, but no longer rides like some of the others.
Don’t know about Pete Smith as he was the only one in the team that wasn’t a Southern Rider
Ken Bird as you know died recently, but after the demise of Clive Stuart and ‘Birds’ with his brother Alec he opened a shop in Orpington that at one stage had Ian Hallam (2nd in world’s pursuit) rode for along with quite a few elite riders.
Not seen any CS bikes around apart from the odd low grade badged versions. I can remember when I got my ‘team issue’ bike, it cost £112.00 and had a full top of the range campag group set on it, how times have changed!! I still have the cup from a road event I won at Danson Park (circa 72) prior to the pro event, I can remember riding away from the field on the last hill and Ken and the team being at the side of the road cheering me on as I was riding a CS!
I also remember meeting Clive and Stuart Biddulph at a road race at Crystal Palace in London, they had a canary yellow roller with a black vinyl roof..........not very subtle!
Mike Morgan April 2013
These pictures were from classiclightweights.co.uk Both riders on Clive Stuart bikes
E Price - Speedwell CC A Jones - Bristol RC
Recently received was this email and some comments in this site's guestbook from Hugh Rainbird. Hugh adds many more details about the team in a communication to some postings on Classic Lightweights......
Dear Darren and David,
I've seen your posts about Clive Stuart on the Classic Lightweights guest page, and as one who owned two Biil Gray built Clive Stuarts in the early seventies, I thought you might be interested in my remembrances, sadly a little faded by time nowadays!
I expect you'll have read Curt Yamamoto's entry on Clive Stuart on the website, and the relevant entries on the Guest book page.
The Clive Stuart name came from the two Biddulph brothers who were well-to-do businessmen living in the exclusive Farnborough Park area of Southeast London. They got bitten by the cycling bug in the mid-60's and joined the Orpington-based Polhill Racing Club. I wasn't a member of the Polhill until the winter of 1970, but stories from longer-serving members of the brothers' activities on club runs and racing trips are legendary!
In 1968 as the "Clive Stuart Organization" they sponsored a professional cycling team, recruiting from the Southeast London "Golden Generation" John Clarey, George Drewell, my friend Barry O'Leary, and Reg Smith, Geoff Wiles, too, of course as well as Time Triallist Pete Smith, who set up some RTTC place to place records. They were managed by Polhill stalwarts Pat Maskens and Dave Creasy. The Clive Stuart team was represented in the Tour de France that year, which was run under a national teams formula. John Clarey riding as one of the British team went all the way, finishing in Paris as "Lanterne Rouge", a great achievement for a "home based" British rider back in those days
To back up the team, the Biddulphs opened the first Clive Stuart cycle shop in Rushey Green, Catford. The team's jerseys were yellow (old gold) with black band and lettering, mirroring the colours of the Polhill. The original bikes were a wine red colour deeper than that of David's picture, with similar white scrolls and bands. I recall riding in an open evening meeting at Herne Hill velodrome in the summer of that year when the team was making its track debut and their track bikes were delivered direct to the stadium from the builder (I don't know if this was Bill Gray at the time), but they were ridden with the frames still "in the rough"!
Later, from 1970 the team frames were finished in overall yellow with the very plain and filed-down lugs lined out in black. My own two frames were in this colour scheme, and I don't recall much variation from the team colours being available for the Bill Gray built-to-order frames supplied to private customers - delivery times were long, as the company didn't have access to its own paint-shop! I have a photo of one of my bikes proudly taken before my first race as a Polhill rider in 1971, but as it's in monochrome, it doesn't convey much about the colour scheme.
The Catford shop was managed by Ken Bird, the team's chief mechanic, and a branch was opened in Welling High Street, run by his brother, Alec. Later the Rushey Green shop was closed and Ken moved to Green Street Green, Orpington. There was also a third shop at Anerley Hill Crystal Palace, run by sprinter Reg Barnett.
As often happens with rich sponsors, their interest in cycling waned in the early 1970's but by that time I believe they had branched out into the North of England, tying up with Stoke on Trent frame builder and previous British international rider Brian Rourke. The team disbanded - Curt's 1972 seems about right, (see www.cyclingarchives.com for details of riders and results) and the shops were passed on to their managers, Alec and Ken running Welling and Green Street Green under the Bird Brothers Cycles marque, and becoming very much involved in the time-trialling scene.
My Clive Stuart frames were very light and responsive performers, designed very much following contemporary Italian styling, though sadly one succumbed to the Flanders cobbles on one of the Polhill's racing trips to Belgium, cracking under the seat cluster, and in subsequent Kermiskoersen I resorted to a sturdier Belgian frame.
It would appear that probably your bikes come from the Clive Stuart northern operation, Chris Wimpey's illustrated on the Website reflects the colour scheme of Eddy Merckx's Faema team bikes which were all the vogue in the early '70's.
Hope that this is of interest,
Regards, Hugh Rainbird. July 2016
Thanks Hugh, very interesting.