THE BIRTH OF THE FLYING GATE.
HOW IT BEGAN WITH W & R BAINES
In 1954, having being in business since the late 1800s, the Baines brothers shut up shop, and with it the production of the V37 and its variants ceased. Fast forward to 1979 and the design was resurrected by Trevor Jarvis of TJ Cycles. Over the next 35 years Trevor offered increasingly fancy lugwork and a number of different designs, many of which have become collectors items, much to the delight of vintage cycling enthusiasts around the world.
“The ‘Flying Gate' was originally known more specifically as a VS37, Whirlwind or International TT. These subtly differing models were designed in 1934 by Reginald Baines of the Baines brothers, Bradford. VS37 was an abbreviation of ‘very short’ with reference to the wheelbase of 37 inches (94cm). The word "Flying" (and of course whirlwind) was due to the success of riders such as Jack Fancourt, Jack Holmes and many others recording excellent times on this new design and "Gate" came later, derived from its unusual construction. The nickname stuck and this is what we call it today.
The company was first formed in January 1979 in Burton on Trent, (The First 'Flying Gate' is shown above, a larger version of the image is available in the photo gallery) moving to Tenbury Wells in 1984. At the time I had a small engineering company which was well established and in one of those momentary lapses I had the idea of building frames, along side the engineering set up.
As a design engineer and cyclist, I had no illusions that making frames and getting them established was to be no easy task, as there were many good long established companies building frames. I felt something different was required to get TJ Cycles known, but what? that was the question.
I had recently renovated a 'Baines' VS37 which was an unusual design of frame and when I rode it I seemed to "go" as if the wind was behind me, the difference was remarkable.
So the idea was born to manufacture and bring back the Baines. The next step was to locate Bill Baines to obtain his approval and rights to manufacture his design of frame. This was achieved and I re-registered the design and 'Flying Gate' name.
The next consideration was manufacturing, how and where? The "how" bit, I didn't know how to build a frame myself, so I advertised and set someone on who knew "how". The "where" bit, I soon saw the difference in the manufacturing side and therefore set the company up in a different unit. Then "Marketing" the frame was the next consideration.
The first idea was the most sound and practical idea, but no, through chance I chose another route. There was an article in "Cycling Weekly" about a UK/BELGIAN Racing Team being set up , and I thought this would be a good way to get the frames known. Lets say it did, but it caused a lot of financial problems. TJ Cycles/Glemp was the team name. I enjoyed the involvement in the pro-scene, but the cost was very high. So some restructuring had to be considered. by this time I had learned a few things about the frame building business, and I was taken aback by how some companies build frames. For a short time I subcontracted my frames to a good professional frame builder, until I learned how to build a frame and make good precision jigs.
Since then it has been a steady learning curve, one never stops learning. I have met all types of people in the Cycling World and hope to continue doing so for a few more years yet, and then maybe I will get down and write the full history of the 'Flying Gate’.
Trevor Jarvis - February 2001
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FLYING GATE FRAME DESIGNThe Flying Gate was originally built by the Baines brothers in 1934 and known as the VS37 and International TT. This classic racer features a unique frame design that allows for a super short wheelbase, resulting in a more responsive, faster bicycle.By shortening the rear chainstays the Baines Brothers radically reduced the overall wheelbase, resulting in the rear wheel sitting much closer to the bottom bracket. This in turn allowed the rider to maintain an optimal ‘tucked’ position but also gave greater acceleration.Where the vertical tube meets the top tube, small diameter strut tubes were added to join directly with the rear dropouts, giving a secure fixing point for the short seat tube as well as contributing to the desired responsiveness, which remains true to this day.Having the vertical tube run up to join the top tube where it does, adds stability to the head tube too, but without making the ride feel ‘harsh’. The vertical tube adds triangulation that counters the torsional pedalling forces, producing a bicycle that has given great pleasure to all those who have ridden one.”The bikes have enjoyed huge success in the racing world, breaking numerous records along the way and adding to the success of the Baines models during the first half of the century. Not all of the frames are built for racing - standard road bikes, touring bikes, track bikes, tandems and even trikes are available too and it’s mostly these variations that make up the ever-growing community of enthusiasts, or ‘Gaters’ as they are more affectionately known.