The business that became Components Ltd was established by R.F Hall in 1890. He had previously worked for BSA but had left when BSA stopped cycle component production in 1885 to focus on a large government arms contract. In 1894 he joined forces with Harvey du Cros and Charles Sangster to form the Cycle Components Mfg. Co, which, with the acquisition of leading tube maker Hudson & Co. and rim manufacturers Westwood Wheel Co. and Warwick & Sons, became a leading supplier to the cycle trade. The 1895 advertisement above shows them advertising the ‘R.F Hall (diamond) frame with Excelsior weldless steel tubes’.
In the same year, Harvey du Cros established the Pneumatic Tyre Co. with J. B. Dunlop in Ireland, to manufacture pneumatic bicycle tyres. A further acquisition was the Ariel Cycle Co. in 1897. The company name changed to Components Ltd in 1902, and they took over Rover’s cycle business in 1912.
Charles Sangster patented his X Frame design in 1901 (below) to compete with Raleigh and Centaur. Though Ariels were sold with this style of frame, the company was a major supplier of cycle fittings, and their X Frame was primarily sold through the trade for other companies to add their own badge. Most of the surviving advertisements for the Components Ltd X Frame are directed at the cycle trade.
c1910 Components Ltd patent X Frame
This Components Ltd X Frame is the ‘Model C’ that was sold through the cycle trade in batches of three as a frame only, for companies to add their own parts and transfer (decal). It’s the same design as illustrated below, which was one that Components Ltd sold complete themselves, badged as an Ariel.
It’s impossible to date these machines accurately. Apart from a lack of records, would it be when the frame was built, the time it was sold by Components Ltd as a frame, or the date it was sold by the purchasing company after they built it up and added their own badge?
The only clue I can offer is that this style was popular in the first decade of the 20th century because of the heavy promotion by Raleigh of their own X frame and by Centaur of their Featherweight: both of those were market leaders, and among the most expensive bicycles in the world. Components Ltd did not expect to compete with those companies; instead they offered the cheapest X frame and benefitted from the Raleigh publicity.
This rare X frame is in good all round condition and ready to ride.
THE COMPONENTS LTD X FRAME
AS SUPPLIED FOR OTHER COMPANIES TO BADGE THEMSELVES