1894 Singer Light Roadster


Singer announced a new ‘Special de Luxe Racer’ in 1893. Their new upsloping diamond frame styling was totally different from previous Singer models, and had been developed as a result of the demand among the racing fraternity for a strong lightweight machine suitable for both track and road racing. It featured 28″ wheels with pneumatic tyres and was priced at £25. Their 1894 patterns continued the same basic design, with a slight difference at the top of the seat tube. It was this difference that allowed me to identify the bicycle featured here as an 1894 Singer.

As the cycle indistry flourished – its ‘boom years’ – the leading companies were under pressure to provide increasingly lighter frames to steal an edge over their competitors. Designs changed radically year by year, with the result that sometimes a company’s catalogue was already out-of-date by the time it was published, and they had to publish another the same year. By 1895, cycle styling had evolved yet again, and a horizontal top tube became the latest fashion. Singer’s ‘new models for 1894’ – featuring this upsloping top tube design – were, by 1895, outdated.

In 1895, the leading manufacturers had to sell off their 1894 machines at discount prices, and re-stock with the new designs. ‘Upslopers’ were shipped to the colonies and to Europe and, in Britain, sold through the cycle trade to agents who specialised in reselling older styles of bicycles by mail order and in regional outlets, where customers were happy to pay a lower price for a top quality bicycle even if it was last year’s fashion. This example was found in a crofter’s cottage on the border of Scotland and Northumberland when the property was purchased for renovation. It had been stored for many decades. Although nothing is known of its early life, I suspect it may have been one of the 1894 models that were sold off via an agent in the north of the country in 1895.

After buying the Singer, I added a saddle and handlebar grips, and fitted ‘Green Tyres’ to the 28″ metal wheels (pneumatics could also be used). I took the machine for a spin along the coast path at Mill Creek near Newhaven on a sunny day last week, and decided it was an ideal location for a photoshoot.


1894 Singer Light Roadster

21″ Frame

28″ Wheels with Cushion Tyres