Dr Alex Moulton dies

British bicycle suspension pioneer lived to 92

Dr Alex Moulton CBE has died, aged 92. The British bicycle designer is best known for pioneering suspension in small wheeled road bikes, long before it was made popular by the mountain bike world.

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The Moulton Bicycle Company paid tribute to their founder on their website: “It is with great sorrow that Shaun Moulton and The Moulton Bicycle Company announce the news that Dr. Alexander Eric Moulton CBE, distinguished engineer and inventor, passed away peacefully in the company of his family and staff on Sunday evening, 9th December 2012, at the age of 92.”

Alex Moulton was born on 9 April 1920. He studied engineering at Cambridge, moving into aircraft engine research during World War II before joining his family’s rubber company, Spencer Moulton and Co. After the company was sold, he set up Moulton Developments Limited, where he designed and produced the Hydrolastic suspension for the Mini.

In the late 1950s he started designing small wheeled bicycles, which were launched to the public in 1962 under the Moulton name. His bikes were notable for their non-conventional frames, small wheels with high pressure tyres to reduce rolling resistance, and rubber-based front and rear suspension.

The Moulton company enjoyed success during the ’60s and were bought by Raleigh in 1967, who mass produced Moultons but stopped in 1974 due to a sales decline. Dr Alex Moulton reacquired the rights to the name and relaunched the company in 1983 with the AM Spaceframe. In 1988, at the start of the off-road boom, he produced the first full suspension mountain bike, the AM-ATB.

Moulton partnered with Pashley (for a lower priced all-terrain bike) and Bridgestone (on an aluminium framed model, based on the original F Frame) in the 1990s and 2000s but largely kept all design, development and manufacturing under one roof. He never lost his flair for original, innovative design and his talents will be missed.

Moultons are still being produced at their factory in Bradford on Avon under general manager and Alex’s nephew Shaun Moulton. For more information, visit www.moultonbicycles.co.uk.

The moulton esprit: the moulton esprit
Paul Smith
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The Moulton Esprit