1894 ‘Humber Pattern’ Safety Bicycle



In the 1890s, cycle racing was the world’s No 1 sport. In the boom years of the 1890s, 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 purchased parts through the trade and built their own bicycles. After Humber introduced a safety bicycle with an upward sloping top tube in 1892 – similar in appearance to their racing model – many of the trade suppliers copied the design. It was often described as a ‘Humber Pattern Frame’.

As you can see in the advertisement below, it was offered without a transfer (decal) so that the “maker or agents may put their own transfer…”


c1894 ‘Humber Pattern’ Safety Bicycle with upward sloping top tube

Road Racing Style with rat trap slotted pedals

23″ Frame

30″ Front wheel

28″ Rear wheel

(Now sold)

This lovely old safety bicycle has a 30 inch wheel at the front and 28 inch at the rear, a popular configuration that meant the back end was slightly lower to provide for a rider with shorter legs. Pneumatic tyres were still a novelty at this time, and could add an extra 20% to the cost of a machine compared with solid rubber tyres. This example has a cushion tyre stretched onto the front rim as it is no longer possible to obtain 30 inch pneumatic tyres.

With 100+ makers and fittings suppliers all selling the same style of bicycle, unless a company name is stamped onto a machine or its original transfer (decal) has survived, it’s impossible to know who made such bicycles. They were all built to a high standard and so expensive that only the gentry could afford them.

Bicycle design changed in 1885/1896 to a diamond frame with a horizontal top tube, at which point this style of machine with an upward sloping top tube became noticeably out of date. But these days we don’t want the latest 1890s designs: instead it’s these earlier ‘dinosaurs’ we like, the beasts that ruled the roads before the internal combustion engine created an altogether noisier form of personal transportation.

If state-of-the-art technology from 128 years ago is what you prefer in your daily rider, this ‘dinosaur’ safety is waiting for you! It’s a lightweight Road Racer with rat trap slotted pedals, it’s in good all-round condition and is ready to ride home.