1891 TAC Safety Roadster


1891 Tacagni catalogue 98


The machine Nicholson rode 100 miles inn 7 hours 1 minute 35 seconds on the Bath Road was one of Tacagni’s Safeties, geared to 60 inches. Consiering it only weighed 27lbs, and was ridden over a lot of rough road at top speed, it proves itself to be one of the fastest and best machines in the market. In the West Road 25 miles ride it did the fifth fastest time, after ‘cropping’ and remounting; so for all-round work and speed there are few to compare tight it.

– Bicycling News, 1887

The company name was Tacagni, Holt & Co, and they built ‘Tac’ high-wheelers and ‘Tac’ safeties at 86 Gresham Road, Brixton, London, described as the ‘Tac Cycle Works.’ By 1889, they had moved to a more prominent location around the corner, at 313 Coldharbour Lane. Their range now included the ‘Tac’ Diamond Safety and ‘Tac’ tricycle.

From 1891, A. Breese joined J. C. P. Tacagni and they offered a wide range of machines, including the ‘Red Cross’ and ‘Tacross.’ The ‘Red Cross’ had an open bottom bracket. They had now relocated to 33 & 34 Great Arthur Street, London. These premises, which they called the ‘Tacross Cycle Works,’ were closer to central London. At the bottom of their catalogue pages, they proclaimed:


As you can see here, for the 1891 catalogue presented a wide selection of machines by including models from previous years. With cycle designs evolving so rapidly at the turn of the final decade of the 19th century most cycle companies were left with old stock. This was not a serious problem for them, as English companies always had a ready market for exports.

A safety bicycle with curved seat tube was a short-lived design, common only in 1890-91. In evolutionary terms, it is placed between the later styles of crossframe and the first diamond frames. As the 1891 TAC catalogue includes the company’s previous models, it has allowed me to use their range of models to illustrate the four main design stages between 1886 and 1891. After that came the diamond frame with upward sloping top tube and finally, in 1895, the diamond frame with horizontal top tube, the design that remained dominant for the next 7 decades.

1891 Tacagni catalogue 00

1891 TAC Safety Roadster

‘Model E’ with Tall 25″ Frame and extended Steerer Tube

30″ Wheels with solid tyres

As well as featuring the short-lived curved seat tube design, this solid tyre safety bicycle has another rare distinction: it was a special order for a taller rider. The frame size is 25 inches – observe that the top of the seat tube has been extended. It also has an extended steerer tube. They are normally around 4 inches, while this one is 8.5 inches.

The machine itself is in good general condition, being an old-time restoration. The paint is missing in places, it needs grips and the pedals are later. The rear sprocket is worn, but it works. The steering head badge is missing, though a blank one is in place and I have a copy of an original TAC headbadge so it could be easily made.