1878 Starley Quadricycle

James Starley was an English inventor and “Father of the Bicycle Industry.” The ‘Coventry Tricycle’ was patented on 18 November 1876 in the names of James Starley, and J. K. Starley (nephew), but it was probably James’ idea. At this time the machine had lever-drive as depicted on the Starley Memorial in Coventry.

It was produced under licence by Haynes & Jefferis from 1877-79. On the left was a driving wheel of 48 in. and on the right two 21 in. wheels connected by a long tube, both of which were steered by a handle. A version was produced with two riders sitting back to back but it never became popular. In 1877 another driving wheel and balance gear or differential was added and two riders were accommodated making it a sociable (patent 1877/3,388). It was known as the ‘Convertible Sociable’ but the additional seat and driving wheel could be removed (patent 1877/1956). Also known as the ‘Salvoquadricycle’, very few of these machines were made. When converted for chain drive in late 1878 it was named the ‘Coventry Rotary Tricycle’ and the earlier version was referred to as the ‘Coventry Lever Tricycle’. From 1880 ball bearings were added and it was known as the ‘Rudge Rotary’ in 1886.

The Collection’s exhibit

The balance gear or differential is not present on the exhibit which suggests that it might have been an optional extra given the chain drive. Cross-shaft pedals are fitted. Steering is by hand-grip through a rack and pinion and crossed rod connecting the front and rear small wheels. Brakes can be applied independently to the large wheels by hand levers which operate contracting band brakes fitted to the sprocket wheels.

vcc_supported This machine is supported by the Veteran-Cycle Club

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