80 Years Young
MONTY YOUNG, THE FOUNDER OF CONDOR CYCLES, LONDON, CELEBRATED HIS EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY EARLIER THIS MONTH. 1948 WAS A VERY DIFFERENT LANDSCAPE WITH A CITY STILL PARTLY IN RUINS WITH BOMB SITES AROUND EVERY STREET CORNER. TO SAVE ON PETROL IMPORTS ALL NON ESSENTIAL 'PLEASURE MOTORING' HAD BEEN FORBIDDEN.
That summer the Australians were in England for the first post-war Ashes series. At the end of July, however, all other sports were eclipsed by the London Olympic Games, which took place during scorching summer weather. At the Herne Hill stadium, four cycling gold medals would be awarded, and all English hopes were on Reg Harris, the reigning world amateur sprint champion. Reg went on to win several more world championships, but in 1948 he had to settle for a silver medal, beaten by eighteen-year old Italian, Mario Ghella.
Just a few months before the Games took place, an east London teenager had left his job as a cabinet-maker and had tentatively entered the bike trade, little knowing that he was embarking on a fifty-year career which would place him at the centre of British cycling.
Condor grew fast in the early years and these were exciting days in the Condor shop, developing a range of top-class lightweight frames and seeing them race at weekends. Frames were priced from £15 to £20, and if there was £50 in the till at closing it was reckoned to be a good day. Other bikes besides their own were sold - lightweight from Hobbs of Barbican and Holdsworth, and roadsters from Hercules. As well as the frames themselves, it was Condor wheels which rapidly became famous for their build quality.
Monty convinced The Council for Industrial Design to test and examine his wheels in the late 1950s. The Council published an impressive report that a hand-built Condor wheel weighing less than two pounds had sustained an axle load of 1200lbs before distorting.
Monty was conscious that he was doing more than running a shop; he was building a specialist business in a crowded field, which demanded ideas and commitment that would spread the Condor name among serious cyclists. He became directly involved in racing. From the mid fifties onwards he was out most weekends with the Condor van helping at road races around London.
Many of the riders at these races became his customers and it was from this pool of riders that the Condor racing team would be formed in 1959.
From the Condor Mackleson team to sponsoring a young Bradley Wiggins; Phil Liggett to neutral service at the Milk Race; National Champions in the sixties and new millenium; Olympics road races, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and World Champions on Condor now and then.
But to summarise - happy birthday Monty.