Humber did not patent their tricycle design, with the result that dozens of manufacturers copied it after it was introduced, and the generic term for any tricycle of this style became a ‘cripper’. I’ve examined illustrations of cripper tricycles built by many different companies. Though it does not have the automatic steering and concealed brake features, the 1888 Ormonde uses the same frame design, and I believe that this was Humber’s 1887 or 1888 cripper tricycle pattern. Unfortunately I do not have a Humber catalogue of the relevant year illustrating it, but in 1889 Humber brought out yet another design, similar but with a top tube (see 1889 model illustrations further down the page). Humber sold their outdated models through th trade in Britain, and also exported them to France where they were marketed as ‘French Humber.’
1888 Humber Cripper Tricycle with Automatic Steering
Front plunger brake with its connecting rod concealed in the head tube
40″ Rear Wheels & 22″ Front wheel with solid tyres
Frame No 17037
This tricycle is in excellent all-round condition, having been restored mechanically around 20 years ago and dry-stored since. The metalwork was rubbed down and the bright parts re-nickelled. Rather than being repainted, the frame has been left as is and rubbed with an oily rag so it can be seen that it is in good condition with no damage.
I’ve ridden the tricycle and I’ve found it quite lightweight, stable and responsive. The automatic steering means that when you take your hands off the handlebars it returns to centre. The rear axle is quite primitive, without a differential and with both wheels driven. As is usual with bicycles and tricycles that have this style of chain adjustment on the tube, you need to check the securing bolts are tight before and after a ride.
1888 WEST LONDON CYCLE STORES CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
It is believed that West London Cycle Stores, suppliers of the ‘Ormonde’, did not build their own machines, but were supplied by other well-known manufacturers. For example, they were the West London agent for the Ivel Cycle Co, and their Ormonde safety appears to be an Ivel sold under the Ormonde name.
Cycle design was proceeding at such a fast rate that models were soon superseded, and it was common practice for top manufacturers to sell off their outdated models at a discount through the trade for smaller companies to market themselves. My assumption is that the ‘Ormonde Cripper Pattern’ tricycle is a Humber built machine sold by West London Cycle Stores under their own brand name.
HUMBER AUTOMATIC STEERING & 1886 PATENT
CONCEALED FRONT BRAKE
ABOVE: BRAKE NOT APPLIED.
BELOW: BRAKE APPLIED
1889 HUMBER CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
VARIOUS CRIPPER TRICYCLES