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St. George's New Rapid bicycle, 1889

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St. George's New Rapid bicycle, 1889
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 811-C


This object appears in the following sections:

Smithsonian Bicycle Collection — The collection, 1887-1891

St. George's New Rapid bicycle
Catalog #: 201,660, Accession #: 35,291
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
This bicycle was donated to the Smithsonian in 1899. It was manufactured by the St. George's Engineering Co., of Birmingham, England. It is an example of one of the many makes of English bicycles of the 1880s. The bicycle represents a technological improvement: its is a cross-frame, Safety type, with a chain strut, a crank-bracket stay, and a stay between the steering head and the top of the saddle post.
Physical Description

Artifact. This bicycle's frame is of metal tubing, the tangentially wire-spoked wheels are of metal with thin solid rubber tires, the handlebars are metal with wooden grips on each end, and the leather saddle is mounted on springs. The lower end of the vertical section of the frame is articulated, the single chain strut being to the left of the rear wheel, as is the chain itself. Both this strut and the crank-bracket stay required adjusting in order to swing forward the articulated section of the frame for tightening the chain tension.

The diameter of the rear wheel is 31 1/4 inches, and that of the front wheel is 30 inches. Each contains 48 spokes. The rear-wheel sprocket is driven by a block chain from the front sprocket, which is equipped with pedals adjustable in throw from 4 3/4 to about 6 inches. There is no coaster attachment, the pedals always turning while the bicycle is in motion. Oil cups are provided in the hub of each wheel. A small metal mudguard is secured over the rear wheel, and it is thought that originally another was located over the rear part of the front wheel. A small footrest is attached to each side of the front-wheel fork, for use while coasting. A step it attached to the left side of the rear fork, for use by the rider in mounting the machine.

A warning bell is attached to the left handlebar, and a lever for hand operation of the front-wheel brake spoon is pivoted on the right handlebar. A coil spring normally holds the spoon away from the tire. A small leather tool bag hangs from the steering-head stay.

Attached to a bracket on the front of the steering head is an oil lamp marked "Zacharias & Smith, Bicycle Sundries, Newark, N. J." In addition to the round clear glass in front, the lamp is fitted with a green glass in the right side and a red glass in the left side.

Date Made:
Gift of H. K. Griffith

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