Saturday, 22 January 2011

History Part 1

Although there are several sources on the Internet, the hisory of Lambert and Viscount bikes is anything but clear. A friend of mine is piecing together information from original sources - people who made the bikes, road on the works teams, dealers and early buyers. If you have any facts about the history of the marque, I would be glad to relay them. See some comments on the CTC forum here. It seems that Lambert bikes was a project to produce high quality lightweight bikes much cheaper than those offered by established builders. It was apparently headed by the son of the founder of the Marriot hotel chain, but manufactured its bikes in England. It may have been associated with a revival of the Viking name, the original company having closed in 1967, since some early Lamberts were badged as Vikings. See the Classic Rendezvous site. The first Lamberts seem to have appeared in 1972, using a rather nice lugged frame. Here are some photographs of a frame of one of these I own. It is a gold plated Professional Grand Prix.

An important aspect of the bikes was the use of 'aerospace' tubing for the frame. This is a chromium-molybdenum (cro-moly) steel alloy but not one produced by an established bicycle tube manufacturer like Reynolds or Columbus. It seems to have come from a British company called Phoenix. Although straight gauge (not butted) it produced light frames and was used for the top-of-the range Viscount bikes until the end of that company. Lambert frames carried stickers extolling the virtues of the tubing. Also very obvious on the Lambert bikes was the extensive use of alloy components specially made for the bike, rather than bits from the established component manufacturers. Various theories have been advanced for this and the unusual steel used for the frame. These include: the design team was made up of cycling enthusiasts, determined to produce their ideal bike; there were lots were ex-aircraft engineers in the company, perhaps from cancelled UK projects like the BAC TSR2 bomber (stopped in 1965); and (!) they were all crooks. I think the last can be safely discounted. The components are so interesting that I will blog about them separately. At some point production changed over to a fillet brazed (lugless) frame. This was not a new technique, but such frames are more difficult to produce to a high standard than a standard lugged frame and this must have been one of the few uses of the method at the time on a mass-production scale. Apart from the appearance if it is done well (not to everyone's taste I know), it has some advantage in lightness and strength. Despite what seem to have been quite healthy sales in the US (where most Lambert bikes come up for sale these days), the company got into trouble and after a couple of years it was re-born as Viscount. Which is a good place to stop for now. Keep pedalling!


  1. This is the first time I've seen someone's photos of the gold Lambert. I bought one back in the early 70's and still have it (Death fork and all). Any idea how rare these gold framed bicycles are? I'm never going to do it justice and it just sits in storage... so I've been toying with the idea of selling it.

  2. My E-mail ( if any interest in the Lambert.