ERNEST F. RUSS 1906-1963
Whose name will be forever immortalized in the Russ fork was one of England’s finest frame builders at a time when this trade was at its zenith in Great Britain. Everyone in the cycling world knew him as Ernie. On finishing school he went to work in the metal trade firstly at Cashmores and then to J.Starley Gardiners. It was about this time that he got interested in cycling and he joined the Velma Road Club as one of its fonder members. Despite it’s name this was a predominately track racing club where he enjoyed a successful racing career.
In 1928 he opened his first cycling shop at 99 Battersea Rise London S.W.11 and his cycles quickly established a reputation for quality and craftsmanship.
He is most famously remembered for the design and manufacture of the Russ Super Resilient Fork in 1930 and the Rapid Taper Chain Stay. The Russ fork was fitted on many other makes of cycle in the thirties and was used by champions all over the world. The fork blades were of a rounded section and were mainly straight with the forward throw confined to the last few inches. During his career as a cycle builder he made nearly 4000 frames including tandems and tricycles. He stopped building officially in 1958 but there were a couple of specials built in 1960, the last going to an American serviceman in the US Navy. For many years Bill Brown was the main builder at Russes whilst Ernie was running the cycle shop. The frames were enameled by Albert Smith of Clerkenwell another legendary character in the London lightweight trade.
Many famous names rode Russ bikes, on both road and track and one of the most famous was Gerry Waters of the Kentish Wheelers. Ernie was associated with the Belle Vue C.C. for many years and was a very active vice president.
There is a lot of confusion when identifying Russ frames due to fact that many makers used his front forks, one certain way is to look at where the frame number is, Ernie always numbered under the bottom bracket and directly behind the front fork crown. Tandem frames have a different numbering sequence to solo’s.