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Alf Engers (Part II) – The Record! or, “I Can Go Fast If It’s Easy!”

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In Part I of Alf’s interview, we found out about his childhood, his coach and mentor, and his track and time trialling records. In Part II, we talk to Alf Engers about that British 25 Mile Time Trial Record: 49:24!

Alf Engers
Alf at top speed – was there any other way?

Before we do though, let’s find out a bit more about the bike. ‘The Speed Machine’, as Cycling Weekly called it in May 1978, was Alf’s gem of a Shorter TT iron.

One of the radical features employed was to place the brake levers behind the flat tops of the bars, thereby tucking them out of the wind and allowing Alf to get his hands deep into the Cinelli 66 bends, like a pursuit rider.

Alf Engers
The infamous ‘hidden’ levers.

The RTTC’s response was immediate, a rule was rushed through, the jist of which was that the brakes have to be operable from the ‘normal riding position.’

I still smile to myself when I look at tri-bars, I’d like to ask the CTT (formerly RTTC) why they don’t apply the rule to them.

It meant that when Alf took the record the bike was spec’ed like this:

  • Mafac ‘kiddie’ levers in the usual position pulling on Weinmann 605 side pulls; the front one was mounted behind the fork crown on the original bike but was back in the conventional position on the record bike.
Alf Engers
Mafac levers, chosen for their small size and light weight.
  • The frame was of lugless welded construction and track tubing – Columbus PL (Pista Leggera) but with Super Vitus fork blades, chosen for their aero advantage.
  • The fork crown was by Cinelli but was filed down to reduce frontal area, as were the Campagnolo fork ends.
  • The head angle was 75 degrees, the seat angle 73 with a 21.5″ seat tube and 22″ top tube, wheel base was 36.75″
  • An Edco alloy headset took care of the steering.
  • According to Alf, Alan Rochford and Barry Chick collaborated on it.
CleAlf Engers
Clearances were track bike tight.
  • A full complement of titanium replacement bolts to gears, cranks, stem and hubs were used.
  • According to Alf a Reynolds chain drove the Maillard alloy block, usually 12 up but 13 up on the record day – he had been experimenting with a titanium chain but Alf felt that it ran very rough. (Other sources say it was a Regina Record drilled chain on the day of the 49′).
Alf Engers
Very light Huret rear mech.
  • Rear mech was a Huret Jubilee – which had been lightened – operated by a filed down Campagnolo down tube lever.
  • Pedals were Campagnolo black road pedals but with the ‘quills’ sawn off, toe clips were Galli alloy and the Saba toe straps were trimmed to length.
Alf Engers
Campagnolo road pedals, but cropped to resemble the track version. Toe clips in this picture are Cinelli, not Galli.
  • Bars and stem were Cinelli with the 66 x 44cm. bars welded to the 13.5 cm. stem on the original bike – but not on the record bike – to save the weight of the clamp bolt and give cleaner lines.