Bicycles are more fun than bombs.
In the aftermath of WWII, England needed some fun. Fun and jobs. Converting English industry from war material manufacturing into peacetime products was the name of the game.
The 1950s saw the creation of the British Cycle Corporation under the Tube Investments Group. The T.I. group owned bike brands like Sun, Phillips, Hercules, Robin Hood, Armstrong, and Norman Cycles (and would later merge with Raleigh).
Here in the United States we wanted to help re-industrialize post-war England, so tariffs on consumer goods like bicycles from England were light or nonexistant. Around 95 percent of all bikes imported into the States in the 1950′s came from England. Bikes like this 1955 Norman “English Roadster” came to the States by the boat load.
Built with light steel (for a 1950′s era bike) and sporting thin tires and three speeds, this Norman would have been considered a fast bike. Compared to the big and heavy (but popular) balloon-tire bikes of the American ’50′s, English bikes seemed to offer something different.
A quick look at the back pages of a Schwinn catalogue of the era would show a few American versions of this style on offer, but American bicycle brands (like their automotive counterparts) didn’t want to sell practical or efficient. American brands wanted to sell you something with white wall tires, fins, and a lot of chrome.