The Lambert Bicycle Co. was, on one hand,
q brave attempt of
modern cycling to self-manufacture an affordable and high performance bicycle. On
the other hand, Lambert-which-became-Viscount was a financial failure that ruined a number of
ownership groups... Whatever history's final verdict, they were fascinating bicycles.
Updated 12.11.2005 Click on images for larger
An elaborately advertised and promoted brand name introduction was
made in 1972. The USA directed portion of the enterprise was reputed
to be well-financed by a member of the Marriott family (hotels, airline
The bikes were an incredible value in
their time - the standard model Super Sports sold for $124.95 which featured
the same frame as the more expensive models, that being of a seamless
"aircraft" tubing. The next model Professional Grand Prix was $134.95,
sharing features with the base model except with having "sew up" tires &
wheels rather than the 27" clinchers.
The gold plated top model (of
which I only seen one!) Professional Grand Prix 24 ct was with the addition
of "Genuine" gold plating. It sold for $259.95! I couldn't say how
many of the gold model really existed....it
is said that only 100 were made.
It was also understood that the
frames were originally made by the old Viking factory in south London. The
first batch were lugged frames and quite nicely made. Later they
became filet brazed (i.e. lugless.)
The Lambert components were all pretty
special. The company really went way out on a limb, rather than buying all
the various pieces from the normal sub-suppliers, they made or had made for
them, parts of their own design and markings.
bicycle manufacturer had made grand attempt in the post war cycling scene
except possibly the huge Raleigh Company, and in that case not with the
sporting emphasis as in Lambert's case. These special parts included sealed
hubs, sealed bottom bracket (although the first batches had conventional cup
& cone bearings),
crank sets, front and
and brake levers,
stem, seat posts,
sealed bearing pedals
cast aluminum front fork (more on that later.......!) The headsets, rims, chain and tires
were the only off-the-shelf items!
the Lambert labeled components were not top grade, but also not so bad
either, considering the era & the newness of the designs! The problem areas were as follows:
- The 2nd generation
sealed bearing bottom
brackets were troublesome;
there was no taper on the bbkt. spindle flats; the cranks slid on & butted
against a washer and then began to work loose.
handlebars became loose from their riveted center sleeve
(gold anodizing or not!)
rear derailleur (a single
parallelogram similar to a Huret Svelto) did not work awfully well,
and was allegedly retired from production due to a patent infringement
lawsuit brought by Suntour/Maeda Ind.
front fork ("Death Fork") started to break at
inopportune moments !
After a few
years, Lambert became insolvent and thereafter became "Viscount" cycles, which
in turn became heavily invested by the Yamaha Motorcycle Co. A new burst of life
arose for the marque, but rapidly all the special parts went away and
"normal" pieces appeared, i.e. Suntour and Shimano derailleurs, etc.
Then the frames became Japanese and Taiwanese (which wasn't too cool in
those days) Yamaha finally de alone (the Trusty Co. had in fact
been the behind-the-scenes manufacturer for some time)" and staggered on for
a year or so before disappearing forever!
was the great hubbub about the aluminum fork... At some point, a certain
number had failed
and the eventual owner company (Yamaha) recalled all the aluminum forks... I sold
Lamberts and never saw a broken fork, although I'm quite sure some broke. I
would not advise heavy use or high speed descents with one...if your breaks, there is no
Lambert Viscount Company left in existence to sue. Look at the method of
joining the steer tube to the cast lower portion! Scary!
What are they worth? To be seen as "collectable", people need to know about a
maker, and care about it....That puts the Lambert in trouble. Maybe someday they will be
discovered, but right now you would have trouble finding an informed buyer at all.
Nonetheless, Lambert is a fascinating piece of cycling history and this
marque may hold some promise of being
seen as truly a collectors item in years to come!