1891 Overman Victor Spring-fork Safety

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.

1891 Overman Victor Spring-fork Safety

(1889 Patent Date)

30″ Wheels with Cushion Tyres

Frame No #12591

(Now sold)

Initially launched by the Overman Wheel Co in 1887 as a cross-frame bicycle with open head, the Victor Spring-fork became America’s leading bicycle design after its update the following year to a Rover style frame and ball bearing head. Overman cushion tyres were introduced in 1891. With its distinctive front fork, the Victor Spring-fork Safety remains one of the most sought-after models of safety bicycle thirteen decades later.

This example has recently been removed from storage. It’s an older restoration in good condition, 99% original, and complete except for a brake. My friend brought it back from the USA last week for me to sell. I’ve had a pair of cushion tyres fitted to it. Apart from  making up a brake (though it can obviously be ridden without), it needs a few parts refitting (rear step, front mudguard, lower steering rod as seen in one of the photos) and the chain adjusting.