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Emperor Sport Cycles

Discussion in 'Pro Cycling' started by redraleigh, 24 Jun 2009.

  1. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    Hi there,
    I'm just wondering if anyone remembers this bike shop in Sutton that I believe was run by Mick Coward. I've just come by a 70's cyclocross bike with Emperor Sport decals. It is set up as a 5 speed with a mostly Nuovo Record, Cinelli, Mafac, Mavic mix of components. If anyone remembers anything about this shop and it's bikes I would love to hear about it.

    I just thought I would post an update about this bike. I'm afraid it's no longer set up as a cyclocross bike, but more of a winter road bike. I've been tinkering with it on and off now for a while and this is where I've got to. The biggest change is that I had the original hubs built into new wheels as I couldn't get on with the tubulars it came with. I should mention that it really rides magnificantly.

    Frame & Forks - Emperor Sport Cro-mo ( tube types unknown )

    Wheels - Campagnolo Record 36H high flange hubs, DT Swiss double butted spokes, Mavic Open Pro silver rims, Schwalbe innertubes & Schwalbe Marathon HS 368 700x28mm tyres.

    Brakes - Mafac cantilevers with Kool-Stop all weather shoes & Mafac non-aero levers

    Transmission - Campagnolo Bar-end lever, Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear derailleur, Nervar cranks and 45T chainring, Campagnolo Record bottom bracket, Suntour Perfect 14-32 5spd freewheel & Sedis chain

    Cockpit - Campagnolo Record headset, Cinelli stem & bars, Cork bar tape

    Other - SR alloy seatpost, Sugino seatpost clamp, Turbo saddle, Lyotard pedals ( left touring type, right quill type ), Christophe toeclips & leather straps, SKS Bluemels Olympic mudguards, ALE bottle cage
     
  2. dan_bo

    dan_bo Doctor of mechanical sympathy

    Location:
    Failsworth
    Not sure about either but that bike's loverly.
     
  3. simon_brooke

    simon_brooke New Member

    Location:
    Auchencairn
    Lucky, lucky boy. That's nice.
     
  4. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    Thanks guys, I really like this bike. At the moment I'm trying to decide whether to give tubulars a try as that's what the rims take, or rebuild the hubs into some clincher rims. I've never used tubulars, but have being doing some research and have thought of trying some with the Tufo extreme tape, rather than glue. Not sure yet though.
     
  5. CliffWoodger

    CliffWoodger New Member

    Hi RedRaleigh,
    Yes, I do remember Emperor Sport and I do remember Mick Coward. He ran the shop together with Tony Mills. I had a Pearson (their competition from just up the road) but they were always very helpful and friendly. I used to shop there in the mid-seventies. Both Tony and Mick were members of the Redmon Cycling Club - as was I. Furthermore, they had both been professional-riders and had ridden in the Tour de France. I know they had ridden it during Merckx's era and I remember as a schoolboy rider riding towards Carshalton (where I lived and my parents still do) asking him how it was riding in the Tour. Tony later opened Dauphin Sport on Box Hill. A few years back he moved to the South of France but I was chatting with the current manager on Dauphin who told me Tony's son visits the shop sometimes. They may still have a business interest in it, but I don't know. I have no idea what happened to Mick or where he is now. One particular memory I have of Emperor Sport was when I had a problem with my chain. I rode my bike to Emperor expecting to have to replace the chain or use a chain-link remover or something. Mick came out, gave the chain a little twist and a flex - job done! :smile: AH, HAPPY DAYS!
     
  6. Paul_Smith SRCC

    Paul_Smith SRCC Senior Member

    Location:
    Surrey
    Mick moved up North when he sold the shop, well the shop premises; it's no longer a bike shop.Tony Mills pops into to see us sometimes here at Corridori, as does he son Nick, in part as we are all friends, plus Tony still owns a property just around the corner from Corridori.

    Both he and Tony were indeed Pro riders, if my memory serves me correctly Tony came second to keith Butler (of the Surrey League) in the Pro Road race champ’s. Although both Pro's at the same time I didn't think that either Tony or Mick rode the Tdf though; I could be wrong but I'm sure I would have remembered that.

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
     
  7. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    Thanks both for your memories of Emperor Sports. I'm just back from my own personal 2 week TDF, and hope to have my Emperor Sport back on the road soon.
     
  8. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker New Member

    Thanks for the history!
    I remember owning an Emperor Sport frame in the early eighties. It was bought second hand and must have been one of the last models. Made with Ishiwata 017 tubing, it was very light for its day.
    A certain Sean Yates had something similar around the late seventies early eighties....his went a lot faster than mine though!

    http://www.34nomads.org.uk/SeanYates0001.jpg
     
  9. mike anderson

    mike anderson New Member

    Hi,

    Just came across this forum by searching for Emperor Sports on the web.

    I had a frame made by them back in 1979 when I was into time trialing with East Grinstead CC...I still have the bike today...dark blue with chrome forks and rear stays..campag headset and fork ends..also have the original build sheet..and the memory of working all summer holiday in a local factory to save up enough to get it.

    Anyhow just thought I'd say hello

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  10. Alangh

    Alangh New Member

    Emperor Sport

    I remember Emporer Sport it was on the corner of Lind Road in Sutton Surrey. I beleive the shop was opened by Tony Mills and Mick Coward, both old pro's. I think they parted company and Tony moved the business to Box Hill, Surrey. Last I heard Tony was in France and Mick moved North. Unfortunately I go back a lot further than that and also remember Bill Hens Cycles which was a few doors along much earlier in the 1960's. Bill who had a slogan "Chick Hens for chick frames". A bit corney but it has stuck all these years. It was the shop where all the Redmon CC riders gathered. Bill was a great character and helped all us youngsters. I still have 2 Bill Hens frames dating back to the 60's both in working order. They were built by Bill Grey frame builder at the back of Strattons Cycles in Wandsworth.
    Sorry I digressed but they were good times. This reply might nudge the memory o some other old uns.
     
    pete wagg likes this.
  11. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    Thanks to everyone who has replied. I wonder if any of you who have some memory of Emperor Sport Cycles would know what sort of tubing they might have used to build this bike. Thanks again.
     
  12. philament

    philament New Member

    I remember Emporer Sports with great fondness. They were in Cheam (or Carshalton), not Sutton, though.

    Tony and Mick were always really supportive of us as youngsters (we were 14 or so at the time) and were never bothered about having us kids hang around the shop, making tea and handing out biscuits. They encouraged our love of racing and made us feel like champions whenever we returned with tales of our races. Tony built me my first TT specific wheels, an amazingly stiff and responsive pair of 24 spoke Campag LF hubs on (probably) Arc en Ciel rims - radial front, the rear radial (on the offside) and tangential tied & soldered on the gear side. Beauties. Never strayed out of true.

    Around this time (mid/late 70s), Mick had started building using Ishiwata 017 (or perhaps it was 015) tubing, so it's likely that this is the tube set on your frame. It has an instantly recognizable ES color, a deep lustrous red. A great find for you, congrats. And really nice to see that picture of Sean Yates in this thread. He was around the shop at times, and even though I rode for a rival team, he was another who was really supportive of us schoolboys. Endemic of the great environment of ES.

    Good times, good people.
     
  13. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    Thanks for the information. This is just the sort of thing I was hoping for. All the best to you and all who have replied for 2010.
     
  14. Paul_Smith SRCC

    Paul_Smith SRCC Senior Member

    Location:
    Surrey
    They had two shops, Church Hill Rd in Cheam and Lind Rd Sutton, when Tony Mills started Dauphin Sport Mick changed name of Sutton shop to Lind Cycles.

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
     
  15. Wocce Racer

    Wocce Racer Active Member

    Location:
    In a house
    Emperor Sport's address was Manor Lane, Sutton (I still have my 70's bonk bag), right at the junction of Lind Road, Manor Lane and Benhill Avenue. I got my first bike there sold to me by Tony. Tony was up front in the shop with Mick building the frames out back. In 1978 the shop expanded, with Mick staying at Manor Lane building the frames and Tony fronting the second shop that was situated in Church Hill Road, North Cheam.

    However, Tony soon left the business to form Dauphine at Box Hill leaving Mick in teh shop in Sutton which soon was renamed Lind Cycles. Mick carried on in what was to become one of the last of the "proper" bike shops, where you could chew the fat, get him to cannibalise something for a spare part, and if you were lucky, get him to build a frame. Frame building became far a few between as the 80's progressed with Mick stopping in the 90's. I had him build for me, what I believe is, the last ever Emperor Sport frame in (I think) 1991.

    Emperor Sport used to feature heavily in Cycling (later to became Cycling Weekly) as Sean Yates rode Emperor frames before he turned pro. Mick retired a few years ago and last year or the year before had a very nasty accident when a steerer broke on his bike.

    I am lucky to have two original Emperors: my 1977 road bike and 1991 fixed. The early Emperor Sport frames only had "Emperor" as the frame transfer, the Sport turned up later. The serial number will start with the year for the early models; ie. 77/****** for a 1977 frame.

    Up to the end of the 80's, before massed produced frame building, there was real competition for frame building; Emperor, Allins, Geoffrey Butler, Roberts, Ron Cooper, Gilliot, FW Evans, Condor, AW and Peason to name but a few. Roberts still produce real works of art (I have two of those as well) which by far exceed any of the continental brands.

    What is the frame number on your bike?
     
  16. Wocce Racer

    Wocce Racer Active Member

    Location:
    In a house
  17. Paul_Smith SRCC

    Paul_Smith SRCC Senior Member

    Location:
    Surrey
    Well I never realised that it as actually in Manor Lane, must have been very close, although thinking about it it was everrrrrr so slightly further around into what is more of a bend than a corner in the little parade.

    Another piece of Mick Trivia, before he retired he rode the coast of Britain (Pete Taylor at GB Cycles ran the shop for him), taking his camper van and dog, so in effect he rode it twice, as he he had to turn back each day to collect both. I never forget him popping in to see us at Pearsons (where I worked for 15 years), he looked so fit after losing a lot of weight, he called in often as we helped one another out with bits and bobs, plus his friend and fellow frame builder (Cliff Shrubb) was the mechanic so often the visit was just for a cuppa.

    Paul_Smith
    www.corridori.co.uk
     
  18. Wocce Racer

    Wocce Racer Active Member

    Location:
    In a house
  19. redraleigh

    redraleigh New Member

    Location:
    Somerset
    I've had a look over the frame and the only number visible is the one on the bottom of the BB shell which is 29254. I hope that helps with identification.
    I love the memories of the shop - places like that just don't exist anymore. (do they?)
     
  20. Wocce Racer

    Wocce Racer Active Member

    Location:
    In a house
    Try Robinson's (if it is still open). Turn right out of Bermondsey tube station and it is a few doors down. Real spit and sawdust!

    Emperor, the old Geoffrey Butler's, Allin's, Reeds are now all gone. It is mostly (but not always) sell sell sell these days.