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Columbia Light Roadster ordinary bicycle, 1886

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Columbia Light Roadster ordinary bicycle, 1886
Smithsonian Insitution, Negative #: 797.5-C


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1883–1886

Standard Columbia ordinary bicycle

Columbia Light Roadster ordinary bicycle

Early bicycle club group at Readville, Massachusetts

Columbia Light Roadster ordinary bicycle
Catalog #: 307,217, Accession #: 66,456
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
Sold originally for approximately $135.00, this bicycle was owned in turn by Herschal Mulford and Lawrence Worstall, of Millville, New Jersey. It is an early Columbia Ordinary made by the Pope Manufacturing Company. It is an 1886 Light Roadster model. The machine was donated to the Smithsonian in 1921.
Physical Description

Artifact. This Light Roadster is a lighter version of the Expert model and weighs approximately 36 pounds with all equipment, as compared to 45 pounds for the Expert. The Light Roadster was available with seven sizes of front wheel, from 47 to 59 inches, and two sizes of rear wheel, 16 or 18 inches, depending on the size of the front wheel. This example is fitted with a 60-spoke, 53-inch front wheel, and a 20-spoke, 18-inch rear wheel, these dimensions including the thickness of the solid rubber tires. The felloes of the wheels are of seamless steel tubing rolled into a hollow crescent, the spokes are of steel wire, and the hub flanges are of light forged steel rigidly secured to steel axles. The axles are mounted on adjustable ball bearings. Adjustable, detachable cranks providing from 4 1/4 to 5 1/4 inches of throw are fitted to the front axle, with rubber-covered pedals attached to the cranks. The curved perch has a tapering, circular cross section and is made of imported, cold-drawn, seamless steel tubing; the front fork is of the same material but elliptical in cross section; and the rear fork is semitubular. The steering head is cylindrical and slightly tapered. The handlebar lug is forged solid with it. The machine is equipped with a Kirkpatrick-type leather saddle suspended on fore-and-aft springs; hollow, curved handlebars of steel tubing fitted with pear-shaped vulcanite handles; a step attached to the lower left of the perch; a steel leg guard; and a friction brake, operated by the rider's right hand, that works against the tire of the front wheel. This Ordinary was restored by Henry W. Mathis of the Southeast Cycle Shop in 1968, at which time the present black finish was applied.

Date Made:
New Jersey
Gift of Lawrence Worstall
The Pope Manufacturing Company was founded by Albert A. Pope in the 1870s and was the first company to manufacture bicycles on American soil. Pope, who had previously exported bicycles from England, began building bicycles under the trade name “Columbia” in the Weed Sewing Machine Company's factory in Hartford Connecticut in 1879. By 1890, the company was so succesful it had bought the factory from Weed because it needed all the space.

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