1882 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.

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 operating a rack and pinion. In 1877 another driving wheel assembly was added and two riders were accommodated making it a sociable (patent 1877/1956), known as the ‘Coventry Sociable’ or ‘Coventry Convertible’ as the additional seat and driving wheel could be removed.

Until 1879 there was a bench seat rather than two individual seats. The lever-drive was replaced by rotary drive with chains from 1880. Consequently the solo machine 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 made by Rudge from 1882.

The Collection’s exhibit

We enjoy demonstrating this machine on event days and it draws much interest. A balance gear or differential was an optional extra which is not present on the exhibit. Cross-shaft pedals are fitted. Steering is by hand-grip through a rack and pinion. Brakes can be applied independently to the drive wheels by hand levers which operate contracting band brakes.

vcc_supported This machine is supported by the Veteran-Cycle Club

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