1889 TAC Cross frame Safety Roadster

JCP TACAGNI

TAC Cycle Works, Brixton, London

Born in 1859 to an Italian father, JCP (John Charles Peter – originally Pietro Johan Carlo) Tacagni grew up in East London before residing at 108 Cavendish Road, Clapham for many years. Tacagni was a cyclist of some note in the 1880s, riding for Cannonbury and City of London Bicycle Clubs but it was as a manufacturer he made his name.

 

“The machine Nicholson rode 100 miles inn 7 hours 1 minute 35 seconds on the Bath Road was one of Tacagni’s Safeties, geared to 60 inches. Consiering it only weighed 27lbs, and was ridden over a lot of rough road at top speed, it proves itself to be one of the fastest and best machines in the market. In the West Road 25 miles ride it did the fifth fastest time, after ‘cropping’ and remounting; so for all-round work and speed there are few to compare tight it.”

– Bicycling News, 1887

His company name was ‘Tacagni, Holt & Co’ and they built TAC high-wheelers and  safeties at 86 Gresham Road, Brixton, London, described as the ‘TAC Cycle Works.’ By 1889, they had moved to a more prominent location around the corner, at 313 Coldharbour Lane. Their range now included the TAC Diamond Safety and tricycle.

From 1891, A. Breese joined J. C. P. Tacagni and they offered a wide range of machines, including the ‘Red Cross’ and ‘Tacross.’ The ‘Red Cross’ had an open bottom bracket. They had now relocated to 33 & 34 Great Arthur Street, London. These premises, which they called the ‘Tacross Cycle Works,’ were closer to central London. At the bottom of their catalogue pages, they proclaimed:

REMOVED FROM BRIXTON.

Tacagni

1891 Tacagni catalogue 00

1889 TAC Cross frame Safety Roadster

21″ Frame

30″ Wheels with John Bull Tyres

 

At first I assumed that the design of this cross frame meant it was from the first few years of safety bicycle manufacture. The significant points are that the main tube is unsupported by stays above or below, and it has open steering. By 1888, companies responded to concerns about the weakness of these machines at the front end – hitting even a minor obstacle could result in the bike cracking at or behind the steering head, so they started fitting a stay from the head to the bottom bracket to provide extra rigidity. Later, a top stay was also added, from the head to the top of the seat tube. If you check the 1891 Tac catalogue reproduced below you can see that, by then, this company had introduced these structural remedies, in their Model B and Model A Roadster. Unfortunately, earlier TAC advertisements or catalogues, illustrating the model featured here, have not survived.

However, after more research, I now believe it to be from 1889 because it has rear dropouts: that method of chain adjustment does not seem to have been used by more than a few companies until 1889 or 1890.

I sold this machine to a customer in 2019 and now, in June 2024, I have managed to receive it back by exchanging it for one of my cars. It’s in excellent all round condition and ready to ride.

 

 

 

 

 

1891 TACAGNI CATALOGUE EXTRACTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHORT VIDEO: RIDING THE 1886 TAC CROSS FRAME SAFETY BICYCLE

TO SEE THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o69G5GF-kvo&feature=youtu.be

PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

Information on J Tacagni thanks to Balham Cycling Club