CYCLE INDUSTRY MARKETING STRATEGIES 1887-1920
Crossframes did not feature prominently among Humber’s wide range of bicycles and tricycles. This one was built at Humber’s Wolverhampton factory, which they purchased from Joseph Devey in June, 1887. They used this factory to build cheaper models, effectively competing against their own Beeston made bicycles. The logic for this was simple: cycle manufacturers were able to keep prices high because their market was aimed purely at aristocrats and rich businessmen. However, exports were also an essential part of the British cycle trade, and they recognised that their products were too expensive abroad. So, rather than reduce the price of their top-of-the-range bicycles, they took advantage of their existing distributuion and agency networks and sold cheaper bicycles built in their subsidiary factories alongside their expensive models.
This practice continued through the early 1900s. For example, ‘Olympia’ and ‘Coventry Royal’ were used by Humber for their cheap brands; Royal Enfield had ‘Coventry Cross’; Triumph used ‘Gloria’; and Raleigh used the ‘Gazelle’ name. In addition, many cycle firms that went out of business were purchased by the bigger companies and kept in operation: eg Humber took over Centaur in 1909; Components Ltd bought Rover in 1912; Premier and Singer merged when they were both bought by the same industrial network after World War One.
By the early 1920s, all prices dropped because of increased competition from the Japanese cycle industry (which had developed as a result of the lack of British exports during the war), and a new home market for the working class who now wanted bicycles for commuting.
1887 Humber Crossframe Safety
30″ Wheels with solid tyres
Frame no 170
There are earlier surviving Humber safety bicycles. For example, the Humber safety model with the small front wheel was catalogued in 1885. Nevertheless, this is the earliest Humber crossframe safety registered with the V-CC marque enthusiast. With frame number 170, it’s one of the oldest surviving Humber safety bicycles.
BOTTOM BRACKET & CHAIN ADJUSTMENT DETAILS
1885 HUMBER SAFETY BICYCLE