1893 Columbia ‘Century’ Model 32 (For Restoration)

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The Columbia Exposition previewed in 1892 and opened fully in 1893.

Also known as the 1893 World’s Fair, the Exposition, in Chicago, celebrated Columbus’s landfall in 1492 (above), where he discovered America …and also Columbia bicycles.

Colonel Pope also celebrated the occasion. Having recently purchased some interesting new patents, the 1893 range of Columbia bicycles made their debut with an innovation that seems incredible for its age …an elliptical gear (chainwheel).



1893 Columbia ‘Century’ Model 32 

Elliptical Chainwheel

28″ Equal Wheels with Pneumatic Tyres

(Original spec was 28″ rear wheel; 30″ front wheel)



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Colonel Pope made a big splash at the 1893 World’s Fair with the state-of-the-art innovations on his latest Columbia ‘Century’ – the Model 32 – which featured both an elliptical chainwheel and a band brake.

This machine was more of a design showpiece than a serious move on the bicycle market, and it was current for this year only.

The ‘elliptical gear,’ as it was described, was supposed to provide extra impetus in the chainwheel’s motion due to its oval shape. The theory was not proven, but it certainly makes an excellent topic of conversation.

This machine is a restoration project. The frame, fork, chainwheel and pedals are original. The handlebars are 1890s but not from this bike. The rest of the parts are wrong but fitted to help visualise the completed job. The chain is missing. The wheels are 28″ British metal wheels with pneumatic tyres and the sprocket does not match the chainwheel.

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