1890 Raleigh Roadster ‘M Pattern’
Open Diamond Frame
Raleigh Patent detachable chainwheel
When I bought my 1890 Raleigh Road Racer in 2012, which is the oldest surviving example of a Raleigh safety bicycle, my friend told me that he had one of a similar age. We compared the two bicycles (see the photos at the bottom of the page). They are quite different, mine being a racing model, but both appear in the 1890 Raleigh catalogue.
The frame number on this example has rusted away, so, without proof to the contrary, mine remains the oldest known Raleigh safety. This is presumably the second oldest. There’s also a similar open frame Raleigh safety at Brooklands Museum, whose frame number dates it as 1892.
This model was a state-of-the-art machine when it was introduced. Its open diamond frame design took over from the cross frame safety design that had revolutionised cycling for the previous four years. But what stood out most at the time was the possibility of “changing gear” – though that did not mean flicking a lever connected by cable to the hub (that was not invented until 1898); instead it required you to unbolt the chainwheel and change it for one of a different size. We take detachable chainwheels for granted now, but this was the first!
I took these new photos of the 1890 Raleigh Open Diamond Frame last week in my friend’s living room. This historic bicycle has recently been serviced and is ready to ride.
THE RALEIGH PATENT DETACHABLE & CHANGEABLE GEAR
1890 RALEIGH SAFETY BICYCLES:
ROAD RACER v OPEN DIAMOND FRAME
These photos are from 2012, when we did a comparison of the two 1890 Raleigh safeties.