The Tweed Run - Classic Bikes and Vintage Clothing

by KathleenDuffy

The Tweed Run is an annual London bike ride where people dressed in retro clothing ride their classic cycles through central London. It might be batty but it’s going global!

It all began back in 2009 with an online forum called "London Fixed-gear and Single-speed". For the uninitiated this refers to old English steel bikes, the ones that remind you of the old Hovis adverts, the kind that people used to cycle out into the country on, or the models that people might have used to get to work.

Some of these classic bikes had bells, wicker baskets on the front, rubber mudguards, really thick chains, big seats, sit-up-and-beg handlebars. But they all had one thing in common - character!

Lady in vintage clothing on classic bike
Lady in vintage clothing on classic bike
K Duffy

These classic bikes  were solid, comfortable and stable. Amongst their makers from the 1880s to the 1980s were Raleigh, Rudge-Whitworth, Humber, Phillips, Sunbeam, Triumph, New Hudson, Hercules and Robin Hood.

The guys and gals at London Fixed-gear and Single-speed  forum loved these bikes and they decided to get together regularly to ride their beloved classics.   Word got round and people began to wear the historic costumes that went with their  bikes.  

The Tweed Run was born!

It's a Family Affair on The Tweed Run
It's a Family Affair on The Tweed Run
K Duffy

It’s now a growing global phenomenon - because people all over the world love to dress up and love to ride bikes in an atmosphere of safety and comradeship.

In the United States there are Tweed Runs in Kansas City, Flagstaff, New York, Seattle and plenty of other towns and cities - as well as further afield in St Petersburg, Sydney, Paris and Tokyo.

Here's a Video of The Tweed Run in New York!

But this is only the tip of the cycleberg and the list is growing monthly. You can find out the latest groups at The Tweed Ride Report.

Just as we've seen from the New York video, there’s usually festivities before and after the race including music, prizes for the most impressive bike, the best dresser and best facial hair.   And you don’t have to have a classic bike - any model will do.

Approaching Trafalgar Square on the Tweed Run
Approaching Trafalgar Square on the Tweed Run
K Duffy

Your frame can be aluminium, carbon, titanium, or even the newest innovation - bamboo! The important thing is the spirit of the cycle ride.  I’ve even seen a couple of penny farthings.

It might be handy to start practising a few British upper class phrases such as, "I say, old chap", "cheerio", "What ho, old thing", "You just can't get the staff", and things like that.

Is that Bradley Wiggins?
Is that Bradley Wiggins?
K Duffy

As for dress code - just make a gesture towards the past by improvising with some vintage clothing and if that includes a bit of tweed, so much the better. 

In fact, The Tweed Run concept has caught the imagination of top designer, Ralph Lauren, who sponsored last year's New York Tweed Run. 

And don't forget that whilst you are foraging through the thrift stores and charity shops for those vintage clothes you'll be saving money and doing a bit of recycling as well.

Vintage bike with basket of flowers
Vintage bike with basket of flowers
K Duffy

The Bike is a 'Green' Form of Transport

For some people, what started out as a bit of 'tweedy' fun has developed into a life-time change of gear!  More people are cycling to work and school, joining cycling clubs, getting out of the house and into the fresh air  - it's cheaper, you keep fit and it's often quicker too.

No wonder The Tweed Run is becoming so popular all over the world.  As we become more anxious about the way fossil fuels react with the environment, the bike is an obvious choice for those who can sometimes choose to leave the car at home. 

Hey - I'm not getting all preachy here!   It's enough to say that The Tweed Run is a really good laugh and will bring a smile to your face, whether you're on your bike or standing on the sidelines.

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Join The Tweed Run

Be a spectator or join it!

Maybe there's a Tweed Run event near you!  

To find out,  go to The Tweed Ride Report to find towns and cities where The Tweed Run will be happening.

Brush off that old bike, get the kids involved, dress up and have a great day out.  Or be like me and just stand on the pavement and enjoy this bizarre spectacle!

Who said British eccentricity was dead?


Copyright: Kathleen Duffy

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Updated: 07/13/2013, KathleenDuffy
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BrendaReeves on 03/21/2013

This looks like so much fun! I hope it comes to my town.

KathleenDuffy on 03/20/2013

Yes, I remember those bikes too. Thanks for the nice comments. I was lucky to get those pics as I was just wandering through Trafalgar Square and they suddenly appeared! Surreal...

dustytoes on 03/20/2013

The Tweed Run looks like great fun! I'm from the time when we rode bikes without shifting gears, and yes, I've worn tweed too. Love your photos - excellent!

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