Let your Christmas present be as generous as the promptings of your heart;
As liberal as your purse.
What can prove more valuable than a present of health, happiness and long life,
Such as goes with a high grade bicycle?
Everybody knows ‘Victor’ means ‘best.’
– Overman Wheel Co: ‘Victors make the Pace’
The bicycle industry was the first major industry in the world to generate such an enormous income from the public. It predated, and paved the way for, the automobile industry, which learned and applied its methods. Probably a good comparison today, in terms of the volume of advertising, would be the record industry or the car industry. And, in terms of an industry that is comparatively new today, we might compare the computer industry.
The Overman and Pope cycle companies were the American market leaders, and the most profuse in their advertising. Compare them, for example, to today’s market leaders in computers, Microsoft and Apple. Overman and Pope were constantly at each others’ throats, litigating and counter-litigating, spying on each others’ factories, and trying to outdo each other in production, quality, price and advertising.
When an intelligent man wants to buy a bicycle he goes to those who have made cycle making a scientific study, and whose years of solid experience entitle him to expect THE BEST in every respect. For ten years we have been building high grade cycles called ‘VICTORS.’ It goes without contradiction that they have always ranked with the very best – a leader of leaders. Always abreast of the times. Always in the lead. ‘Victors make the pace.’
In the end, such intense competition from both the top end of the American market and the bottom, with 300 companies vying for a slice of this booming business – and also dubious inflated stock market flotations – resulted in a bicycle industry market crash. Many cycle manufacturers were bankrupted. Overman was the largest, folding in 1898. The legacy it leaves for us over a century later is some very well-made bicycles and fabulous posters and adverts.
1889 Overman Victor Spring-fork Safety
30″ Wheels with 1/2″ rims and (assumed) original solid tyres
Frame No #7182
The Victor Spring-fork was the market leader when it was introduced in America by the Overman Wheel Co. With its distinctive front fork, it was very popular in its day and remains just as desirable thirteen decades later. The early models of Victor Safety are particularly interesting because of their wide penny farthing style handlebars. Another interesting feature on these machines is that the brake is on the rear wheel because of the suspension on the front. The linkeage on this one has been serviced and works well.
This example is in excellent condition, both mechanically and cosmetically. It’s an older restoration, with a replacement leather top for its Victor patent saddle, repro slotted pedals and a new front wheel spindle. Its wheel rims are narrow: I thought initially that it was a racing model, but now I can see that the wheels on the Victor in the catalogue illustration below are the same. The 1/2″ solid tyres look like they are the originals. It rides fine with them, but they are quite worn so if you wanted to use it for many long journeys you might end up replacing them.
My friend recently brought it back from the USA, and has not yet refitted the front brake rod and front fork foot supports (you can see thenm in a separate photo) or pedals.
This fabulous machine is ready to ride and display.
The patent date on headbadge of the Victor shows its year of manufacture. As you can see below, the latest patent date – on the lower right hand side of the badge – is September, 1889.
1889 OVERMAN VICTOR CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
OVERMAN WHEEL COMPANY
THE REAR BRAKE