This Barb bicycle carries a history suggesting it is a pre-World War II model, with a number of interesting features including a ‘Cyclo’ derailleur.
The gentleman who owns this bicycle recalled that the original owner said he had purchased it in Mildura in 1938. This purchase date is also supported by the address on the painted Barb logo on the headstem of the bicycle. It lists the Finlay Brothers address as 322 Elizabeth Street, which was certainly the firm’s address prior to their new larger premises being built in 1940-41.
During World War II, the bicycle’s original owner was a Flight Sargeant stationed at an airforce base. His name and rank are painted on the side of the bicycle’s frame, and this was done as sometimes bicycles were “borrowed” by people wanting a ride to town (and then not returned). But, as the current owner has described – “no-one borrowed the Flight Sargeant’s bike!”
The fascinating suspension device found at the rear of this bicycle indicates that this is a sprung frame model. Finlay Brothers struggled to produce sprung frame Barbs during WWII due to the difficulty obtaining construction materials, though strongly promoted them in post-war years. Therefore it is interesting to be able to see such an early model of this design.
The ‘Barb’ signwriting is not on the down tube, as on many other Barbs, and is apparently painted vertically under the seat post. Intricate pinstriping is part of this bicycle’s paintwork, including light blue and dark blue with white pinstriping. Like some other Barbs, this bicycle does not actually have a metal head badge.
The fascinating gearing device found on this bicycle appears to be a bolt-on ‘Cyclo’ derailleur. The owner has supplied several photographs of this interesting device.
This bicycle is a very interesting model and carries such a great story of it’s WWII experiences at an airforce base.