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Dr Alex Moulton: 'An inspiration for generations of engineers'

Inventor of small-wheel bike, Mini suspension dies at 92

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Obit Dr Alex Moulton, the engineer and inventor famous for designing small-wheeled bicycles and car suspension gear, has died at the age of 92.

Moulton pioneered full-suspension small-wheel bikes, which were super popular in the 1960s and are still being built by hand in Bradford on Avon by The Moulton Bicycle Company.

He also worked with Sir Alec Issigonis on what eventually became known as Moulton suspension - specifically the "Hydrolastic" and "Hydragas" systems - which have been used in more than twelve million British cars, from the original Mini to the MGF.

The Moulton Bicycle Company said the inventor was "an inspiration for generations of engineers, designers and inventors".

Moulton was the great-grandson of rubber pioneer Stephen Moulton, and he was educated at Marlborough College before going on to Cambridge University.

During World War II, he worked at the Engine Research Department of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, where he was a personal assistant to Sir Roy Fedden, the chief engineer, for two years. After the war, he worked at the family rubber firm Spencer Moulton and Co, where he set up a research department specialising in rubber suspension systems for vehicles.

In the late 1950s, he worked with Issigonis on suspension and he launched his iconic bicycle in 1962 at the Earls Court Cycle Show.

According to the bicycle company, Moulton said his bike was "born out of my resolve to challenge and improve upon the classic bicycle, with its diamond frame and large wheels, which has locked bicycle design into that form since the pioneering work in England of Starley and others at the end of the 19th century".

The F-frame design, front and rear suspension systems and even the small wheels for a full size bicycle were all revolutionary innovations in 1962.

Fellow British engineer and inventor Sir James Dyson, who attended the 50th anniversary event for The Moulton Bicycle Company in Bradford on Avon last month, said at the time that Moulton was "an inspiration" for Dyson engineers. ®

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