1869 Unidentified Boneshaker

Although a few French and American bicycles appeared in Britain during the late 1860’s, and one or two firms and local blacksmiths built a small number, the British cycle industry did not come into being until 1869, when the Coventry Machinists’ Co., a sewing machine manufacturer, decided to make 400 bicycles half of which to be sold in France.

The onset of the Franco-Prussian war removed the French market but bicycling had really taken off in Britain. For some inexplicable reason the boneshaker front-drivers became popular while the earlier Macmillan-style rear-driver vanished from the scene. From then on the progress of the bicycle was rapid.
The infant sport was exciting. Three young gentlemen rode from London to Brighton on bicycles in February 1869 and an early textbook gave advice on trick riding.
Before long the front wheel grew larger, so that the rider did not have to pedal so quickly, and the rear wheel grew smaller to compensate for the increased weight in front. But it was soon found that the larger wooden wheels, with wooden spokes, were unsatisfactory, and few of what came to be known as transitional models are to be found nowadays. When the High-wheeler or Ordinary Bicycle arrived metal had replaced wood, and the large metal wheels were as rigid as the wooden ones.

The Collection’s exhibit

The boneshaker rides best when on a dirt road or track. On a metalled surface the iron rim has little grip.

vcc_supported  This machine is supported by the Veteran-Cycle Club

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