By the thirties, the Modele Superbe X Frame had been the star of Raleigh catalogues for three decades. The above photos shows Raleigh chairman Frank Bowden, c1900, with his. However, the economy of the 1930s forced companies to reduce production costs. The X Frame was expensive to make. By 1932 the company wanted to reduce sales of this model, and it was no longer heavily promoted. It was removed from the catalogue, though it reappeared in some years’ catalogues as either the ‘Service Model’ or ‘Irish X Frame.’
Despite the company’s intentions, there was still demand for it, particularly from overseas. Raleigh exported it in parts for local assembly, mostly to Ireland and Holland, but also to Commonwealth countries, and they continued to supply it in this way until all the old parts were used up.
British customers could also buy one as a special order. In this instance, the special order was not only for an X Frame, but also the largest frame size available, 30 inch. It’s a giant!
1930s Raleigh X Frame – Special Order 30 inch Tallest Frame
Sturmey-Archer ‘Model AW7’ 3 speed gear
This 1930s Raleigh X Frame is a very rare 30 inch tall model. Although the green paintwork looks original, it was repainted and pin-striped many years ago. The gear is a Model AW7 from 1937 (the year the AW gear was introduced). I can not decipher the frame number, so I assume the bicycle to be from 1937, though it may be earlier. There’s a tear in the saddle (it can still be used), the bright-work is tarnished, and it could do with new tyres. But overall it’s very presentable, in good mechancial order and ready to ride.
1930 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
The 1930 Raleigh catalogue appears to be the last time that Raleigh calls its crossframe the Superbe, giving it prime position in the catalogue. By 1932 it was no longer the top-of-the-range model, but renamed the Irish Crossframe. So it would appear to have changed in 1931 or 1932.
1936 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
The RALEIGH ALL-STEEL ‘IRISH’ CROSS-FRAME POLICE MODEL
The duties of the Force demand more than a mere ‘push-bike’ – supreme strength, easy running and unfailing reliability, in short the new Raleigh ‘Police Model.
Note the specially constructed steel ‘X’ frame. This added strength will meet the demand of the hardest service it is possible to give to a bicycle. But throughout it will maintain its flexibility. Bearings are specially hardened and accurately ground to ensure silken running. Raleigh brakes are a revelation in their smoothness and efficiency, while Raleigh chrome plating and special rust-proof enamelling make the All Steel bicycle ideal for all-weather riding.
No matter how much you pay, money cannot buy a better bicycle – the Raleigh is the standard by which all bicycles are judged.
– The Raleigh Cycle Co Ltd, 35 Lower Abbey St, Dublin
The Irish X Frame model, as its name implies, has been specially designed for use on the reputably bad roads often to be found in Ireland, or where the ground to be continually traversed is of a broken and exceedingly rough nature, thereby necessitating a frame of somewhat more substantial and stronger character than is usual.
The ‘Model Superbe’ Crosss-Frame had been Raleigh’s top-of-the-line model since 1900 but, by the early 1930s, the company started to phase it out. As it still appeared under other guises for several years, I suspect that it was available by special order. It was subsequently renamed the Police Model and no longer given prime billing in the catalogue.
It also appeared in Raleigh catalogues as the ‘Irish X-Frame’ – The special X formation used gives it the additional strength exactly where it is needed, and the machine readily stands up to the hardest of hard going. The adverts below show Raleigh’s Dublin address as well as Nottingham.
According to the book The Story of the Raleigh Cycle, the Irish government launched its ‘Industrial Programme’ in the thirties to encourage firms to employ local labour. So Raleigh formed the Irish Raleigh Cycle Co Ltd in October, 1936, ‘though its factory was only really an assembly plant and did not actually manufacture bicycles. The factory became operational early in 1937 and an average of 1000 machines per week were put together there until the outbreak of the Second World War.’