Holdsworth Professional

Components Fitted:

From the 1940s to early 70s the UK levied Purchase Tax on all new bikes, but not all components. To reduce the tax (over 24% in 1949), people could buy a frameset, pick their own components and do the assembly themselves. They hadn't bought a bike, they had bought (lots of) components. So a Holdsworth Pro. (or other high end frame) could have any mix of components. However, a Holdsworth frame stockist would probably offer the Holdsworthy component range too, so a certain kit similarity could occur.

The first Holdsworth Professional was the shop model of 1967, the factory model appeared in 1970. Both models adopted a Reynolds 531 butted tubeset, Prugnat S type lugs, Prugnat fully sloping crown and Campy 1010A dropouts (no mudguard eyelets).

The W.F. Holdsworth Professional: 1967 - 1971/2

Ads May and July 1968 WF Holdsworth (the shops) signed Bob Addy for the 1967 season. He was given a top-of the-range frame...the shop 'Italia' range, which comprised models: Strada (racing), Cronometro (TT), Pista (track) and Italia (touring)(range based on the Colnago, Roy Thame). The new 1967 shop model was the "Holdsworth Professional", it was effectively a Strada built to 'team' specification and in team colours. The Strada was a 'Special build', i.e. made to customer spec-sheet, so could be 72 or 73 deg parallel, have extras like bottle bosses and done in any colour. The Professional was to 'team' specification, 73 deg parallel and in team colours only. In 1967 the block Helvetica decals were lined in gold with lugs lined white. All Pro and Strada frames were made by Reg Collard in the Putney Shop (or at home in Hemel Hempstead), until he retired c1970. "Reg made some 1970 frames, but most 1970 shop 'specials' (and all subsequent years) were made by Tommy Quick, his successor" (Brod).

Dale Brown's bike could be a pre 1970 Reg Collard Professional. The bottle cage eyes (team used clips, for TA chrome cage), embellishment to white lining, 531 decal (on shop frames only if explicitly requested) and yellow and blue oval Campag stickers (not available in UK) are all non-original spec, they may have been added at re-enamelling (not by Holdsworthy). The un-chromed forks and removed cable outer stops at the levers, suggests this could be a 1969 team bike. However it appears to have a headtube decal, not a headbadge. This could be a very early 70's Pro, built to a customers specification, or an early 70's Strada which has been re-enamelled in team colours. It's 6 and half a dozen, the Shop Pro was essentially a Strada in team colours.

Identification of the "Italia range" Strada and Professional:
  • Chunky seatstay wrapover, much thicker than the factory professional. There was a big bag of these wrapovers, which were made for the shop by a general engineering company. Only Reg Collard used them, until his retirement. Then Tommy Quick used them (he eventually took the bag away). Tommy made all the shop 'specials' from Reg's retirement until 1995. Dale's seatlug front
  • Integral Allen key seat bolt clamp, which cannot take a centre-pull hanger (the factory Pro had a Campag allen key bolt unit) Dale's seatlug rear
  • Self tapping dome headed headbadge rivets ...shop never used a pop riveter, but the factory did.
  • They were enamelled by Broma Art Enamellers of Romford, who did a lighter orange than the later factory orange.
  • Italia For Decal The shop applied a sticky-back decal to the fork blade of their Italia, Strada and Professional models. The decal is an "Italia" shield, sometimes with the name Holdsworth arched over the top. They also had an Italia decal on the top-front of the seat tube, where a 531 decal would normally go (The shop did not apply 531 decals to their frames, except on the rare occasion when the customer insisted). Blue Campag badges were sometimes laid across the Italia decals.
  • 1969 framesets had no chrome. Dale's whole frame
  • All chrome forks for 1970 and 10 inch chrome on chainstays, (Holdsworthy ad below, says chrome forks on factory Pro. in June 1970)
  • Team Professionals had a hanger brazed onto the seatbolt housing, for the Universal centre-pulls. Brod filed these off (for Easter 1969) when Campag side-pulls were fitted, so the seat lug enamel may have been re-touched on early examples (which have not been re-enamelled later). Brod was first to remove the gear-cable outer stop from the D/T Campag levers. Dale's gear-levers . 1969/70 team riders all had their names hand signwritten on both sides of the top-tube near headlug.
  • Customers Professionals, if to order, would be built to the detailed spec sheet customers completed. If they specified centre-pulls they would get a hanger, but some used side-pulls and did not.

Braze-ons generally were considered bad form, as re-heating the tubes weakened them (Brod), but they did come later.

1970 The Holdsworthy Professional:

After the 1968 Olympics a full Holdsworth-Campagnolo Pro-Team was recruited for the 1969 season. Holdsworthy, the main sponsors, became increasingly uncomfortable about the frame situation. The team was not riding Holdsworthy frames, they were on W.F. Holdsworth frames, because the top factory model was the Super Mistral "fastback" tourer. In 1969 Bob Addy brought an ultra-close clearance frame back from Belgium. Holdsworthy liked the idea and adopted it, with some features of Reg Collard's Pro (based on the Colnago, Roy Thame) and named their new model the 'Professional'. The factory Holdsworth Professional was launched between Oct '69 and June '70.

The 1970 BRRC (British Professional Road Race Championship) was won by HC rider Les West with team-mate Colin Lewis coming third. However, early purchasers soon noticed that their Holdsworth(y) Pro. was not like the HC Team frames. With growing unrest, the team were given factory Professionals for 1971. "The team rode the 'Shop Professional', until Holdsworthy supplied factory models for the 1971 season. Even then, some of the riders kept using shop frames for years, e.g. Gary Crewe and Les West". (Brod)

Advert November 1969
Advert June 1970
factory Pro top Tube Decal

"We continued to produce the shop Professional frame for a period after Holdsworthy launched theirs, as customers were asking us to build to specification. We then switched to the Strada, this could be finished in any colour" (RT)

Some HC riders kept using their shop Pro, rather than the early factory Professional, but were aware of the delicacy of the situation. The shop sent their Professionals to the factory to be enamelled, even some Reg Collard ones were redone, so the colours matched the Holdsworthy Professionals, so some team riders could keep using shop frames. The Aug 1972 cover of "International Cycle Sport" shows Gary Crewe on his "Strada" Professional (note 'Italia' range fork decal). Colin Lewis liked this sticky-back decal so much he applied little shields to all his bikes, so we can't say from the fork decal in this 1972 pic whether he is on a Shop Pro or not.

My blue Professional

My 1970 factory Pro. frameset was unusual, it had no chrome, a simple aluminium tube seatpost and a crude seatlug bolt. A coat of white primer gives the kingfisher blue used by Holdsworth its richness. (The kit is 2 years older). C-T 58cm (23"), Top tube 57.5cm, Fork offset 36mm, Trail (700c wheels) 67.4mm

Frame 2070g + 2 dropout adjusters 4g
Fork 766g
Frameset 2840g +  Campag. headset 188g

Price was c£27. To put this in perspective, on "d" day (15 Feb 71) £27 would buy 216 fish suppers (12.5 pence each).

1971 The Factory Professional Takes Over

1971 catalogue page

Initially the Road Pro was made 73o parallel with a Reynolds 531 butted tubeset and a 40" wheelbase (later reduced to 99cm, 39"). It had Prugnat 'S' lugs, thin seatstay wrap-over and Prugnat fully sloping crown, only braze-ons were the chainstay gear cable guide and stop. Campagnolo Record Strada headset and Campag. dropouts (no mudguard eyes). It was built to sprint clearances (no space for mudguards). Later they increased the angles to 74o parallel and then 75o parallel, then reverted to 74o. By 1985 the Pro. had 74o seat and 73o head angles. The 1971 Track Pro was 74/73o, with 39.5" wheelbase and 11-11.25" BB height.

  1972 Frames Cycles
1972 factory Pro 1972 catalogue page 1972 Professional Cycle

1972 The only change to the 1971 spec was that the road Pro could have additional braze-ons if requested.

The 1972 BRRC was won by Holdsworth Campagnolo rider Garry Crewe (Link to Classic Rendezvous, scroll down) with team-mate Les West second, both riding Holdsworth Professionals. Les was also second in 1973. Link to Classic Rendezvous: Team model used in Aug 1972.

1973 Cycles & Frames for USA Export: They say "There is an International shortage of top quality components such as Campagnolo, Stronglight, TA, Cinelli and Clement...we reserve the right to substitute if considered necessary". This shortage, continual European price increases and pound/dollar conversion rate fluctuations has made it impossible to produce our "Bike Riders Aids" (USA only?). Due to great demand, delivery on the Strada, Pista, Cronometro and Professional models is approx 20 weeks. Catalogue prices for complete cycles include UK tax. Exported cycles are exempt from this tax, prices for USA are as follows: (Carriage and custom charges payable on receipt).

Jan 1973 Prices to USA frameset cycle
Strada: optional chrome forks + 12" rear $98 or $112  
Professional 12 spd $98 $407
Professional Track $76  

1974-75: The W.F. Holdsworth catalogue gives the following:

Strada shop catalogue page Strada (Road) Built to your own requirements or to the recommended specification. A short compact frame built purely for racing. 73o parallel 10.5" b. bracket height, 1.5" fork rake 16.5" chainstays. Bare clearance for sprints using shallow brakes, no guard eyes. Campagnolo front and rear ends, set for 5 or 6 speed as required, fully integral sloping fork crown, full wrapover top eyes on 5/8" seat stays, thick chain stays. No brazed on fittings except for gear stop and guide on rear of chainstay. Q/R hanger if centre-pull brakes are specified. Allen key seat bolt fitting. Other brazed on fittings are obtainable as required. Finished in any colour enamel, lustre or flamboyant with contrasting panels and lugs lined. Holdsworth large block transfers, world championship bands etc. and displaying the distinctive Campagnolo Italia transfers. Campagnolo Strada headset.

Factory Pro and Pro Sprint (Track model) Professional (Road and Sprint) These frames are built by the Holdsworthy Company in their modern workshop. Specially designed for the Holdsworth Campagnolo team. Short compact frames with close clearances, using Reynolds 531 tubing and Prugnat lugs. Finished in the well known team colours of orange with blue panels featuring all chrome front forks and 12" chrome on rear triangle. The Road frame is supplied with Campag. Headset, Campag. seat pin and either Campag Q/R or Allen key seat pin fixing. The Sprint (Track) is fitted with TDC headset and BB, it has no Campag seatpin. Sizes 21" to 24" in 1/2" increments.

The 1974 BRRC was won by Holdsworth Campagnolo team rider Keith Lambert.
The 1975 BRRC was won by HC rider Les West (with team-mate Keith Lambert second).
The 1976 BRRC was won by HC rider Geoff Wiles (with team-mate Phil Corley third).
All riding Holdsworth Professionals. This was a unique hat-trick.

This stunning machine, once owned by Ken Denny, has a factory serial number (39735) indicating 1974 manufacture and was possibly Les West's 1974 or 75 team bike. The top-eye wrapover at the seatlug is the thin factory type, but it has 'shop' solid headbadge rivets and Italia decal! The WC bands on the headtube is a shop feature too. The braze-on gear lever bosses are unusual. Roy Thame told me the Pro riders were given a new frame every year. He said that at the end of each year the team got new frames and kit.  The old frame was returned, re-enamelled to be used as a training bike or team spare.  He suggests that Les’s bike was returned at the end of the season, the shop probably added the braze-ons then it was sent to the factory for a respray.  The solid headbadge rivets suggest it was returned to the shop who applied the decals.  The little Italia shields can be put on anything of course. I'm told t has not been re-enamelled since, but the blue may have drifted in the jpeg. The Reynolds 531 decal is more a factory feature, the shop only applied these if the buyer specially requested it. After the move to Oakfield Rd (some time after May 1975), all team names on the top tube were done in Lettraset then lacquered over. Jim Hagan (Holdsworthy 74-78) applied the Lettraset on all of them.
Les West team issue Pro Westies headtube Westies frame front side Factory Pro seatlug

Between March and September 1975, on the insistence of Holdsworthy, the shop stopped badging their frames as Holdsworths. The Strada, Italia, Pista, Cronometro's and Competizione models were no longer Holdsworths, shop models were Roy Thame decaled.

List July 1975 with Campag gear frameset cycle
Professional Sprint Frame £56  
Professional 12 spd Nuovo Record £71 £275
Professional 12 spd Super Record/ORO   £365
1975 or 76 Professional Sprint. The rising price of chrome from South Africa led to a marked reduction in it's use (Jim Hagan, Holdsworthy 74-78). Pro Sprint 1976 Pro Sprint 1976

1976 The Road Professional was 75o parallel with 39.25 inch wheelbase. Ultra-close clearance for piccolo brakes, 10.75" bb height and chromed Campag Record ends only. Team colours or to choice. Also available to order as the Pro Sprint with Campag track ends. These 75o parallel frames were found to be too twitchy, so they reverted to 74o, probably for 1977. 1976 Pro frameset 1976 Professional Frameset
1976 Pro Cycle 1976 Pro Cycles

Reynolds 753 was launched 1977, Ray Robinson says Jock Kerr rode a 753 Pro in the Milk Race, but he snapped the chainstay so 753 was not adopted.

 1978 Pro SL 1978 Colour change to all orange with seat-tube lettering. The Pro now has the short Campy 1010B dropouts with only the faces chromed and a Vagner ETDL fork crown. 74o parallel angles and 39" wheelbase. The Pro SL is made from Reynolds 531SL tubing, with Prugnat cut-out lugs, micro-cast crown and other enhancements. 1978 Pro framesets 1978 Pro cycles
1978 frames 1978 cycles

Phil Corley (Holdsworth-Campagnolo) won the 1978 BRRC on a Holdsworth Professional SL.

1981 Campag Super Record dropouts adopted, according to Aids 1981, but the evidence suggests they are Campy 1010B Nuovo Record and that the catalogue wrongly names them Super Record (which would be titanium).
Models frameset only in blue 1981 professionals 1981 Pro models
Professional (Road) £159 £525
Professional (Track) unclear, see pic: Bicycles/Pro
Professional Super £595
Professional SL £240 £695
1983 Available as complete bike or frameset only in White Pearl with Black trim, there was no colour choice indicated. 73o head 74o seat. See catalogue for kit spec. 1983 Pro frameset 1983 Pro cycle
1984 Available as frameset only in White Pearl or colour to choice. Prices & Finishes 16 Jan 1984
The 1985 model was the last Professional before the Marlboro take-over. Available as complete bike or frameset only in White Pearl with Black trim, again no colour choice indicated. 73o head 74o seat 1985 Pro details

Marlboro-Holdsworths 1986

1986 ProAbout Nov 1985 Holdsworthy were taken over by Marlboro, production soon moved from Anerly to The Holdsworthy Co. Ltd, Alma Works, Darlaston (now Wednesbury), West Midlands. The 1986 range had moved downmarket a bit, but the Pro frameset appears unaffected.

Falcon-Holdsworths 1987

Year Holdsworth Model Colours Frame Sizes
1991 Professional 346 Black 21, 22, 23.5, 24.5
1992 Professional 619 14sp Midnight Blue 21", 22", 23", 24"