Thursday, 16 September 2010

A Mysterious Artist

Or so it would seem, given the dearth of information available on the man.

Les Rigden worked in bicycles.  He had a shop in Brighton where, by all accounts, he ran a successful business selling and repairing bicycles and building custom frames.  That's the simple part of it.

I own a tandem built by Mr. Rigden in the early to mid 1980s, from what I was told.  It's gorgeous, with a full Reynolds 531 tandem tubing set, lovely carved lugs and an attention to detail that tells me that the builder cared as much about the future of the bike as the potential riders did.  The tandem got me interested in Rigden's career.  He's not a household name such as Ron Cooper, Bob Jackson, or even George Longstaff, from what I can tell.  He's not listed in the catalog of classic frame builders, but his restoration work can be found in several pages on the site, all testaments to a careful and understanding mind when it came to machinery of the two-wheeled sort. The internet provides few other glimpses of his career:  in 2007, he had several entries at the Amberley Museum Veteran Cycle Day, including a 1925 Chater Lea Light Roadster and a 1952 Claud Butler Ladies Touring Tricycle ('Uses the biggest saddle-bag in the world!').  The catalog for that contest referred to Les as the 'renowned cycle builder' from Brighton.  Perhaps in Brighton, but why is there not more published about Rigden's bicycles?

I want to know more about Mr. Rigden and the care that went into our tandem.  I think I read an email posting someplace that he's now building frames in a loftier place, but maybe that's wrong.  I'll try to call him.  In any event, I'm hoping this blog can be a place for other Rigden owners to share information on the marque and their respect for an under-appreciated master.