Finlay Brothers history site

Barb Cycles
Preserving the bicycle and
motorcycle heritage of
Finlay Brothers, Elizabeth St
Melbourne, 1900-1961.
Barbs in road races
Barbs in road races

A newspaper excerpt showing a Barb Cyle ridden by Jack Dowling (the winner of this 1933 championship),1 in first position at the front right side of the photograph.

Source: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), July 24, 1933.

Source: The Mildura Cultivator
(Vic: 1888-1920), May 18, 1907, 9.

Source: The Mildura Cultivator (Vic: 1888-1920),
February 16, 1907, 6.

To be a presence on the road racing scene would have been of great importance for the makers and sellers of the early Barb Cycles.  Advertisements (such as those displayed to the right of this screen) show the intense focus on records and race placings.

The Warrnambool to Melbourne road race was one well known early Victorian road race that Barb Cycles made several appearances in - a hefty 165 miles over early roads in often rugged weather conditions:

  • 1905 - Bob Finlay placed second2, at the age of 20 years.  A very interesting race report is available on this website's page "Bob Finlay as an early Barb racing cyclist".  
  • 1910 - Alf Collins placed fifth,3 with Finlay Brothers claiming he rode a Barb Cycle.4
  • 1911 - Alf Collins was claimed to have ridden the same Barb bicycle from the previous year,5 and placed first, but it was later reported that another rider had lodged a protest over "interference" and the first placing was subsequently awarded to the second cyclist.6
  • 1932 - "Fatty" Lamb - a well known Victorian cyclist who competed locally and overseas, set a world record for his time over the course (165 miles in 6 hrs 21 min 18 sec),7 though due to the race being handicapped he was not actually a placegetter.  It was suggested that this was a "comeback in the road racing sphere" for Barbs.8  Lamb went on to display a range of his cycling medals, sashes and cups in the Finlay Brothers' store windows - only to have £40 worth of medals stolen by theives via broken windows - less than a month after this race.9

The Victorian and Australian Junior Road Cycling Championships (under 16y.o.'s) were won by Jack Dowling in 1933,10 - as seen in the photograph at the top of this webpage - with Finlay Brothers claiming it was on a Barb.11  He became a well known junior of the 1930's cycling scene.  A Finlay Brothers' advertisement suggested that his father held a Swan Hill Barb Cycles agency.12

The Colac to Melbourne road race over 100 miles was won by young Ballarat cyclist H. Chegwin in 1934,13 most likely on a Barb Cycle.14  It was reported that he finished ahead of the second placegetter by only a length, with 40 of the riders either injured
or involved in accidents.15

The Sale to Bairnsdale road race for £100, most probably the 1907 event, was won by Geelong cyclist Don Hall,16 with Rosenthal's Barb Cycle Agency claiming he rode a Barb.17  Interestingly, the race seems to have started at half past four in the afternoon, from near the Criterion Hotel in Sale, with the first finishers reaching Bairnsdale at ten minutes to seven.  As with other early road races, it was reported that "there were numerous mishaps".18

Mildura appears to have been a strong hub of Barb cycling:

The Turner Road Race over 20 miles in the Mildura area, and organised by Mr Rosenthal of Rosenthal's Barb Cycle Depot had Barbs place first (A. Bye) and second (J. Tyson) in 1907.19

And of course, a Barb Road Race held in 1914, over 20 miles, and organised by Mr Murphy of the Barb Cycle Depot in Mildura, attracted 26 competitors (of which 11 rode Barb bicycles20).  It was won by R. Camin - riding a Barb - who received the winner's first prize of a Barb Cycle (of course...).21

And yes - as we find them - more Barb Cycle exploits in the road races will be added...


1. From an advertisement by Finlay Brothers. Australian Cycling & Motorcycling, August 10, 1933, 32.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), October 2, 1905, 6.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), October 5, 1910, 5.

4. From an advertisement by Finlay Brothers.  
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), October 16, 1911, 9.

5.  Ibid.

6.  Northern Star (Lismore, NSW: 1876-1954), October 27, 1911, 8.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), October 10, 1932, 5.

8.  Australian Cycling and Motorcycling, August 15, 1935, 12.

9.  Mirror (Perth, WA: 1921-1956), October 22, 1932, 4.

10. The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842-1954), July 26, 1933, 19.

11.  From an advertisement by Finlay Brothers.  Australian Cycling and Motorcycling, August 10, 1933, 32.

12. See note 8 above.

13.  The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), October 15, 1934, 14.

14. See note 8 above.

15. See note 13 above.

16.  Gippsland Times (Vic: 1861-1954), February 28, 1907, 3.

17.From an advertisement by Rosenthal's Barb Cycle Agency.  The Mildura Cultivator (Vic: 1888-1920), May 18, 1907, 9.

18. See note 16 above.

The Mildura Cultivator (Vic: 1888-1920), February 16, 1907, 10.

The Mildura Cultivator (Vic: 1888-1920), June 6, 1914, 6.

21. The Mildura Cultivator (Vic: 1888-1920), April 15, 1914, 8.


Barb Cycles