1885 Dan Albone high wheeler
Dan Albone was an important figure in cycling during the 1880s and 1890s, not only as rider, inventor, and ‘Ivel’ cycle manufacturer, but also as someone famous for providing hospitality and assistance for cyclists. He was not a major manufacturer but his influence was profound, working with A. J. (Faed) Wilson and G. P. Mills. He was also a great character and an important public figure in Biggleswade.
He is renowned for producing the hands-off safety bicycle, the first practical lady’s bicycle, the tandem bicycle, as well as the Ivel Motor Car, Motor Bicycle, and the Agricultural Motor (tractor).
By the middle of the 1880s the high wheeler had achieved perfection. Riding a bicycle was a man’s sport, and most instruction books explained how to avoid a “cropper” (i.e. tip yourself over the handlebars) without getting seriously hurt. Typical advice was: “When the bicycle runs away with you downhill, place your legs over the handlebars and steer for the nearest hedge, choosing a soft spot to land.” One advantage of the high wheeler was that you could see over the hedge to pick your spot, but that was no help if a boy – or a policeman – pushed a stick through your front wheel with no chance of saving yourself. These incidents were doubtless highly amusing to spectators, but some riders wanted more of the pleasure of cycling with less of the danger. And so the first safety bicycles began to appear.
The Collection’s exhibit
This example benefits from a brake, often missing, and a nicely tooled leather saddle.
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