New pattern for 1896: This is similar in design to the Grand ‘Modele de Luxe’ semi-racer, but is intended for path racing only.
It is fitted with wheels 28in, speeded to 70in (or to order), rat-trap pedals and toe clips, steering lock etc. Finish black framework, brown rims, lined gold.
– 1896 Singer Path Racer catalogue description
The mid-1890s saw the introduction, in Britain, of various cycle components that would become the industry standard. The Brooks patent saddle clamp is one example, replacing the style of clamps where a large nut was screwed through the bottom of the clamp into a flat spot in the seat post to secure it. The diameter of the seat post fitting for the saddle clamp was standardised as a result, but the diameter of the seat pin varied (because the gauge of cycle tubing varied).
Slotted pedal cranks – both right-hand threads, bolted in place – were superseded, through various stages over a period of two years, by screw-in pedals. (See the chart above). When threaded pedal shafts came into use, opposite threads became necessary.
Singer was an exclusive brand; its components were made in-house, unique to the company, and of top quality. Its customer base comprised society ladies and gentlemen, and most Singer bicycles and tricycles were in a traditional style (see the 1896 catalogue below). However, Singer bicycles had enjoyed many racing successes since the days of the ordinary (‘penny farthing’). To capitalise on their racing publicity, the company introduced a dedicated Path Racer in 1896 which featured the latest frame technology – using the same fine-gauge lightweight tubing as the Singers ridden by racing cyclists. This lightweight diamond frame machine may seem ‘modern’ to our 21st century eyes, but this was a revolutionary design for 1896 – bear in mind that the ‘upsloper’ style had only just been replaced by the diamond frame design.
The 1897 Path Racer featured here has Singer’s later style of chainwheel, though all other parts are as per the 1896 catalogue illustration, with an early pattern open fork crown, and pedals of the older style using pinch-bolts to secure them to the crank. Already a lightweight machine, the overall weight of this example is further reduced by the fitting of ‘Roman Rims’ which came onto the market in 1897.
ROMAN CYCLE CO
The ‘Roman Cycle Co’ of 31 Lombard Street, London, experimented with the production of aluminium-tubed cycles up to 1897. Its founder Dr Reinhard Isidore Romanoff was a pioneer in the application of aluminium, and he perfected a jointless rim made from an alloy of aluminium and copper, which he patented in 1897. He named his unique alloy ‘Romanium’, and these new lightweight wheels were called ‘Roman’ rims.
Bicycle ‘novelties’ such as aluminium wheels were welcomed by the cycle industry, cycling press and public alike.
1897 Singer Modele de Luxe Path Racer
‘Medium Height’ (23″ Frame)
28″ Aluminium ‘Roman Rims’
Singer Patent 17″ Nickel Racing Handlebars with Centre-pull Stirrup Brake
Singer Patent Rat-trap Pedals
Gough Racing Saddle
The Singer Cycle Co was one of the World’s leading cycle manufacturers. This top quality racing machine uses only the best components, including state-of-the-art wheels – Roman Rims were introduced in this year – and a nickel racing handlebar. Singer’s 1896 patent drop handlebar and rat trap pedals are superb features on this rare racing machine.
Although Singer made their own patent front plunger brake, fitted to their ladies’ models and gents’ roadsters, brakes were not used on fixed wheel racing machines (coaster brakes were still a few years off). The pull-up front brake on this bicycle would have been added later.
This racer was repainted at some time in its life, and has a few scratches to the paintwork as a result of regular use. It’s in excellent overall condition, is a fast machine, and is ready to ride.
1896 SINGER CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1896 SINGER ACCESSORIES & TRICYCLES