Severn Valley or Tour of Britain

The thing about Viking is that catalogues do not tell the whole story.   There seem to be two reasons for this: one, that they were willing to oblige their customers by building to the customers’ requirements; the other that they reserved the right to change specifications of their models, so likely made undocumented changes when they wanted to try something or when they had supply problems of a particular component and substituted something else.

Ian Steel 1951 ToBA further factor may be that they built frames to different specifications for their sponsored riders.  It is hard to find any definitive information on this, but looking at stills from Pathe News clips of Ian Steel in the 1951 Tour of Britain, I think his frame may have been built with Nervex Professional lugs.  These lugs did not feature on a catalogue model until the Tour of Britain model was introduced after Ian Steel’s victory in that inaugural Tour.


Severn Valley or Tour of Britain?

Viking Frame #189This frame is something of an anomaly – see all the photos HERE.  One is tempted to say “Tour of Britain model” because of the early 1950s date and Nervex Professional lugs, but there are no reinforced pump peg mounts nor reinforced rear brake stay bridge – compare with this other early Tour of Britain frame which has both features.  The mounting holes for the early rectangular head badge, the serial number and treatment of the seat stay tops preclude any possibility that this frame was made later than the first few years of the 1950s decade.

The conclusion can only be that this is either an early Tour of Britain, without the reinforcements, or that it is an early Severn Valley (1951/2?), with undocumented Nervex Pro lugs, that may or may not be of similar spec to Ian Steel’s 1951 frame.

Severn Valley Anomaly

195x_Viking_Severn_Valley SN175  (1)This is a very interesting frame, later than the above, (see all the photos HERE) almost certainly in original finish, the tragedy of this frame is that it has had a front end collision.  This is repairable of course, but then the original finish will be destroyed, along with the historical interest of this frame.  This is a Severn Valley frame with Nervex Pro lugs, if the transfers are to be believed, and made well before Nervex Pro lugs became part of the Severn Valley specification in 1957, after the supposed demise of the Tour of Britain model (I say “supposed” because there are people who say their Tour of Britain frames are later than 1956 and the fact that Viking dropped it from the catalogues after 1956 is no guarantee that they did not make any thereafter). This is the only Severn Valley frame on which I have seen these seat tube transfers, which are otherwise much seen on ToB frames, and it is the only frame on which I have seen this particular Viking Severn Valley down tube transfer – and it is a dead ringer for the transfers on Ian Steel’s 1951 ToB bike.195x_Viking_Severn_Valley SN175  (2)

Tentative Conclusions

All conclusions with respect to Vikings are necessarily tentative because of their degree of customization.  We welcome any and all contributions (please use our Contact page) that will provide more data points and help to establish trends and timelines.

Conclusion 1: Ian Steel’s 1951 team bike was labelled a “Severn Valley” – as you would expect, this being Viking’s premier road racing frame at the time, even if it was not to “production” specification.

Conclusion 2: Viking built team frames, and maybe others, as “Severn Valley” models with Nervex Professional lugs prior to the time when they became a standard part of the Severn Valley specification.

Conclusion 3: Viking built Severn Valley frames/bicycles, for paying customers, with Nervex Professional lugs when they were not featured in the specification prior to 1957.  From 1957 onwards these lugs became part of the Severn Valley specification when the Tour of Britain model was officially (per catalogues) discontinued.