Collecting Bicycles

collecting  bicycles

 Like the motor car, there is no one inventor who can truly be credited with their creation but rather several designers working in the early- to mid-18oos who almost simultaneously developed aspects of the modern design with which we are all familiar.

These early machines each had aspects akin to today's bikes but also incorporated mechanisms that would never truly solve the problems of pedal-driven propulsion. In fact, some didn't have pedals at all; the rider simply sat on the saddle and scooted along by running and kicking out with his legs.

collecting  bicycles

Not surprisingly, there were few women cyclists and most men were jarred so badly by the experience that they never tried it twice! In polite company, the cycles were called 'bone-shakers' but they may have had other names in male circles!

Pedals gave better propulsion. Some - like the penny-farthing - had disproportionate wheels that gave great drive motion but turned balancing into something more suited to a circus act. Others used
pedals on the front wheel like the penny-farthing but reduced 'the wheel size to the one with
which we are now familiar.

collecting  bicycles

Front-wheel drive is very limited and the creation of rear-wheel propulsion was one of three factors that finally turned the bicycle into a viable form of transport. The other two were pneumatic tyres and the improvement of roads .

Cycles became popular in the late 1800s although not all were bicycles. The tricycle included some extraordinary contraptions for two riders seated side by side and possessed two huge front wheels and a smaller rear wheel. These designs ultimately failed on the road but the pedal principle on which they are based evolved and remains in the mechanism that drives pedalo boats on park lakes.

As the 19th century wore on, cycling became frequently used as a form of light exercise suitable for both gentlemen  and ladies. By the 1890s, bicycles had spread around the globe.

collecting  bicycles

Collecting machines from this era is almost impossible. They rarely appear for sale and the cost is high. Four-figure sums would not be unusual but there are plenty of reasonably priced cycling-related accessories. Cycling maps were published showing Victorians which routes were safe, suitably paved and free from major gradients, an especially important consideration on machines where mechanisms to gain speed were better advanced than those for reducing it.

collecting  bicycles

The Bickerton  Classic fold-away city bike. Created in the 1980s as a response to the demands of traffic congestion in inner cities, its ultra- light aluminium frame could be collapsed into a manageable carry bag. The Bickerton cost $300-£200 when new and could be assembled in less than a minute. The bag hung on the handle bars for shopping.

The electrical or motorised cycle, several of which were launched between 1946 and 1960. The rider pedalled until reaching a set speed - often around five miles an hour - before the bike, either manually or automatically, changed to motor driven. Production of prototypes was often rushed into marketing causing financial ruin. Mopeds proved more popular but the principle might yet be taken up in the energy conscious 21st century.

collecting  bicycles

Cycle Memorabilia.

If cost is a problem, why not look into cycle related memorabilia. Lamps, tools and repair kits give an insight into a bygone era and can be purchased for a couple of pounds. Brass bulb-ended horns from the 1920s, tool kits containing spanners, valves and puncture pads can be found for $10-15 £5-10. 

collecting  bicycles
Lamps may prove more expensive but it is still possible to find an array of items that, if nothing else, will demonstrate how safety standards before electric battery lamps were poor. Liquid fuels - such as paraffin, petrol and even acetylene - were common and such lamps can be picked up for between $15 35 £10 -£30. 

Children tricycles are another idea for lower budget collecting. The Mobo Child's Trike was a popular post-war austerity design. There were no pedals, just a bent bar through the centre of the front wheel. Tyres were solid and the ride was uncomfortable so many are still lying around the loft, barely used.

Collectibles Coach

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