Friday, May 18, 2007

Update on 1940s American Framebuilder Mike Moulton

On April 6th last, I wrote about an California framebuilder named Mike Moulton in a piece named “1930s Moulton Special.”

Later I emailed Ted Ernst who raced at a national level in the US as early as the 1950s; here was what Ted was able to find out:

I got in touch with a few guys in regards to Mike Moulton; the memories are sketchy.

He didn't start to build until after the war, sometime like 1947 or so and only built for a few years. Framebuilding was more a hobby as he was a full time employee at Lockheed Aircraft. Guys raced on his bikes all around especially in those early years when the Burbank track was up and running around 1948/9.

From what was said he had no direct connection to the bike game, as far as club or business affiliation, but went out to the races watched, talked to the guys, enjoyed the mechanics of it all and started building and selling, probably for about 4-5 years until he dropped away.

They were nicely done and at the local level here had moderate success. Like so many others, a brief encounter and duration in the game. I'll keep ears open, and any old codger comes along, I'll try to get more info and relay to you.
Ted Ernst

[Ted Ernst, (Lower Right) competing in the National Board Track Championship in 1956. Picture from Wool Jersey.]

Last week I received a picture of an all chrome Mike Moulton frame built in 1949; still owned by the original owner Joe Cirone. Joe won the California State Championship on this bike in 1949, 50, and 51.

Here we have a known Mike Moulton frame; if you look closely at the picture at the top of the page, his name is stamped on the front of the fork crown. Looking at the distinct style of the head lugs and comparing them to the frame I wrote about on April 6th; my opinion is that the two frames are the work of the same builder.

The unknown frame (Left.) also had the name “Moulton Special” which was found under the many coats of paint applied over the years. As I previously stated, “How many framebuilders named Moulton can there be from that era?”

If the unknown frame was indeed built by Mike Moulton, then it was from the 1940s not 1930s as the owner had guessed it was. However, because of WWII, bicycles developed very little during those years and a 1940s frame will look pretty much the same as one built in the 1930s.

It appears that Mike Moulton built frames as a hobby, but even so they were very well crafted and were raced successfully in the 1940s, and a few of these frames still exist today. There would have been few American builders at that time; US framebuilding didn’t proliferate until the 1970s.

I find it interesting because we share the same last name, though not related as far as I know. This is a small but never-the-less important part of American cycling history and should be remembered and documented, even if it is only on a blog such as this. I am hoping that there will be more information forthcoming, maybe from family members and decendents of Mike Moulton.

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