Saturday, 14 August 2010

Elswick Hopper Cosmopolitan (Pt 1)

In a fit of fleabay madness I seem to have bought a rusty old ladies unisex shopper bike. So let me present Elswick Hopper’s answer to the Raleigh twenty.

It’s basically the same principle as a Twenty but with a slightly more elaborate double tube frame and nifty one piece bent tubes forming the chain and seat stays.

That’s about all I know about this bike. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the Cosmopolitan on the internet at all, just a few brief historys etc about Elswick hopper itself such as on Sheldon and an article from 1949 which has some fantastic black and white photos.

This particular one is a complete rust-bucket and it’s a good job I have no intention of restoring it to the condition of the one show below that sold on ebay in Coventry because so many of its original components are bin-fodder.

Laughably the seller described the brakes as 'great', even though the rear caliper had no cable or brake blocks and the front was so rusted that the pivot was seized. All that was stripped and binned within 5 mins. Good job it was cheap and I didnt want the brakes anyway, no harm done but cheeky to describe something so inaccurately.

The handlebars and stem went straight in the bin as the stem bolt sheared immediately, leaving me to cut the stem with a hacksaw and hammer the rest of the bolt & quill out. The chrome plating on the front rack is rusted to hell, so that may get painted up and reused in someway, or just put on ebay along with the white pedals and grips.

It came with 20” 451 wheels, but I’ll replace those with bmx sized 20” 406 wheels instead and use drum brakes. The 3 Speed AW Sturmey Archer is stamped August 73 and it’s in pretty fantastic condition considering it's age and how knackered some of the other components are. I’ll be stripping the AW down completely and cleaning it up. Then it can either go onto ebay to recoup the cost of the bike or I’ll keep it for the future.

The frame will get a new coat of paint and I’ll be keeping the chain guard. The mudguards I’m not sure about, as the rear one is badly split and they wont be quite the right size for the smaller wheels anyway.

It will take a while to build up the various parts needed to make a working bike out of this, so this one is a long term project for rainy days.


  1. Haven't seen one of those before. It's a nice looking frame, as does the sturdy looking front rack.

    If it's availability whats putting you off 451 rims, Mr Colostomy mentions finding some for his Twenty.

  2. I've seen a few of these around, at a glance I always think its a Twenty. If you do go the drum brake route, 406 rims with fairly thick tyres should mean that the stock mudguards are fine, so long as you have clearance in the frame. I find 451s give a more pleasant ride than 406s, but with the right tyre the actual diameter could be about the same.

  3. I'm definately going for drum brakes. It's an itch I need to scratch.

    I mainly decided it would have to be 406 rims to save a little on what might turn into a hefty price tag for building up two drum braked wheels along with greater availability of parts.

    It's all up in the air at the moment though, I'm just going to take my time and see what pops up on ebay whilst I'm working on the frame and other parts.

  4. If it's up in the air I've got a Deore XT front disk hub I'll swap for the AW hub if it's any use to you.

    Can see the attraction of drums though.

  5. That's the one thing thats not up in the air, it's drums or nothing for this bike!.

    Thanks for the offer though :-)

  6. I had one that looked just like the bottom picture but it had a white wire basket on the front and a white box thing on the back - I loved that bike!

  7. My first bike, Also sans front rack. I remember being gutted as it didn't have gears.

  8. It's been great to read about your experiences. You're right, the Cosmopolitan model is almost forgotten!

    I bought mine a couple of weeks ago from the tip for £10! I'm now taking it apart and putting it back together again.

    When I removed the cup and cones I found the bearing cages were made from plastic. Never heard of that before.

    Your bike looks good now BTW - I'm keeping mine original and hoping it won't be a target for thieves / drunks!

  9. Hey, just stumbled across this post and I'd like to say my grandfather in law has donated one of these to me in pretty good condition. Where might I find the date? Thanks :D

  10. I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the best virtual strippers on my taskbar.

  11. I have an orangey graphic coloured bike like the above. Think it must now be about 40+ years. Very well used & has been up & down gravel, tarmac, stones - anywhere a MTB can go, so do I. New bits n pieces have been replaced but it is an awesome bike & the 3 gears just keep me fit. Just seem someone mention that the bike may have a date - WHERE. I reckon I got mine when I was 12 making mine 42 years old :-)