c1893 Road Racer Safety Bicycle
Humber Pattern with lightweight frame
This early 1890s road racing safety is so well made that I’m surprised that I couldn’t locate its maker. I’ve spent months searching through every magazine and catalogue of the period, but so far without success. The closest match I found is the 1891 Whitworth Racer illustrated below. However, there’s no absolute proof to confirm that’s what it is.
The problem is that after the success of the new design of the Humber safety in the 1891 racing season, every company started making similar frames, both in roadster and road racing form, and this style – ‘Humber Pattern’ – stayed in fashion until 1895. There were hundreds of similar frames, with minor variations in design, which changed from year to year. Unfortunately not enough advertisements and catalogue illustrations have survived to represent them all, so it’s very hard work to identify this type of bicycle. ‘Humber Pattern’ is the best I can do.
Nevertheless, whichever of the top British manufacturers built it, this is a wonderful lightweight road racing machine that is a total joy to ride…
In the 1890s, cycle racing was the world’s No 1 sport, and in the boom years the cycle industry could not make bicycles fast enough to supply the demand from chaps who wished to emulate their racing heroes and maybe even set their own records on the country’s roads. As well as the established manufacturers catering to this market, hundreds of smaller companies bought parts through the trade to build their own bicycles. After Humber brought out their safety bicycle with an upward sloping top tube in 1892, many of the trade suppliers copied the design. It was usually described as a ‘Humber Pattern Frame’. As you can see in the trade advertisement below, it was offered without a transfer (decal) so that the “maker or agents may put their own transfer…”
1893 RACING SCRAPBOOK