The Victor Safety, which was new in 1887, has taken a veryn high place in the estimation of riders …It was not less than a sensation – a genuine surprise to old riders; and its many practical good qualities have so firmly established it that there is no room fr doubt that it will hold its own against all comers.
As fast as any, absolutely safe, and well adapted for night and rough riding, it is a successful combination of qualities long desired. Old men have fund it a tractable and profitable steed, and it has delighted and captivated those who had formerly held aloof from cycling. This machine, like most of our products, differs from all others. It is one of the articles of our faith never to make blind copies.
As the wheels are small the vibration is great. To compensate for this we have introduced a spring fork which absorbs the vibration, and, in effect, carries with it its own good road …We would urge wheelmen to ride a Victor Safety, and then try a similar machine, without a spring fork, and note the difference. It will tell its own tale.
– 1888 Victor sales catalogue
When the Premier safety bicycle made its debut in England in February, 1886, it completely revolutionised the world’s cycle market. Other manufacturers quickly got to work designing their own versions. The Overman Wheel Co, one of America’s leading cycle makers, went one better – their new safety bicycle had a sprung front fork.
However, by the end of 1886 they had apparently still not quite completed its design. Because their announcement in December of that year in The Bicycling World did not carry an illustration of it …the assumption being that they were still working on it.
Overman was keen to incorporate all the new innovations in their safety bicycle, but English companies were moving so fast it must have been hard to keep up to date. They linked up with William Bown, patentee of ball bearings, and by 1888 the spring fork in Victor Safeties had four ball bearing to improve its functionality. In return Wm Bown built their own version of the springfork to sell in Britain, which they named the Aeolus Victor.
The crossframe version which was launched in 1887 was only built for one year. It served its purpose to to test the spring fork and establish a market for the Victor. In 1888 it was superseded by a ‘Rover style’ open frame Victor Safety fitted with the spring fork. The machine presented here was built in late 1887, as it was suuplied with a rear brake, most of the components of which were missing and required fabrication when we restored it. In terms of innovation it is a remarkable bicycle for 1887.
1887 The Victor Safety Cross frame Springfork
1888 OVERMAN VICTOR CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
Wm BOWN’S VERSION OF THE VICTOR SPRING FORK