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British Motorcycles

E. M. Bowden's Patents Syndicate Co

Bowden Cable

Invented by Frank Bowden, a Bowden Cable is a type of flexible cable used to transmit mechanical force or energy by the movement of an inner cable (most commonly of steel or stainless steel) relative to a hollow outer cable housing. The cable housing is generally of composite construction, consisting of a spiral steel wire, often coated with plastic, and with a plastic outer sheath.

The linear movement of the inner cable is generally used to transmit a pulling force, although for very light applications over shorter distances (such as the remote shutter release cables on mechanical film cameras) a push may also be used. Usually provision is made for adjusting the cable tension using an inline hollow screw (often called a "barrel adjuster"), which lengthens or shortens the cable housing relative to a fixed anchor point. Lengthening the housing (turning the barrel adjuster out) tightens the cable; shortening the housing (turning the barrel adjuster in) loosens the cable.


Frank Bowden

Frank Bowden (1848- 1921) was the founder of the Raleigh Cycle Co and the inventor of the Bowden Cable.
  • 1848 Born on 30 January 1848 in Bristol, the son of William Bowden (d. 1866), a Bristol manufacturer, and his wife, Louise (d. 1879), daughter of Henry White of Bath
  • 1879 He met and married Amelia Frances (d. 1937), daughter of Colonel Alexander Houston, one of the pioneers of California State
  • When Bowden was 24 years old he made a fortune in the stock market. When he returned from Hong Kong he was seriously ill. His doctor gave him 6 months to live. On his doctor's advice, Bowden took up cycling. After recovering from the illness he bought the company where he originally purchased his bicycle.
  • In December 1888 the Raleigh Cycle Company was founded.
  • By 1896 it was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world.
  • 1921 He died of heart failure at his home, Bestwood Lodge, Bestwood Park, Arnold, Nottinghamshire, on 25 April 1921.
  • His only son, Harold Bowden, succeeded to the baronetcy and assumed control of the company.
Sources: Grace's Guide


Tue Jan 01 2013
colinbrannigan<at>aol.com
Bowden Cables
Bowden Engineers ltd moved to LLanelli Wales in 1963, motorcycle cable manufacturing ceased in 1967, in 1969 the name was changed to Bowden Controls ltd and cable manufacturing for cars, trucks, aircraft, ships, MOD, power stations etc continued.
The 1921 involvment was a "clip on" engine for bicycles; in the Muuseum of Speed at Pendine is an original 1905 Bowden motorcycle given to the museum by the company before the closure in 2006, thus ending 109 years of cable making.


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