1896/1897 BSA Fittings Machine
Racing Frame with upward sloping top tube, built in France
30″ Front wheel; 26″ rear wheel (‘Westrick’ style rims)
Brooks ‘B18’ saddle
The wheels on this French BSA Fittings Machine presented various problems. They are an early type of ‘Westrick’ rim and the front wheel is 30″ diameter. Pneumatic tyres are not made in this size, so we experimented and it is now fitted with a stretched 28″ beaded edge tyre. I tried every size of tyre on the 26″ rear wheel, but I couldn’t find anything to fit, so in the end it has been installed with a Greentyre.
The illustration below, from the 1898 BSA catalogue, shows a parallel top tube, as does the 1896/1897 catalogue, while this BSA has the earlier style of upward sloping top tube, more commonly found on bicycles between 1893 and 1895. The frame size is 20.5″ (52cm) A bicycle such as this would have been built to a customer’s specific requirements, and the upward slope allowed a rider with shorter legs to ride a larger machine.
BSA FITTINGS CATALOGUE EXTRACTS, 1896-1897 SEASON
No 7 TOE-CLIPS
1897 STANDARD PATTERN HUBS
HUMBER PATENT FORK ENDS
Though the other fittings on this bicycle can be found in the BSA Fittings catalogues, the fork ends are of the Humber patent pattern. Humber had a shop in Paris in the 1890s, and their components were often used on French bicycles before 1900. French Humber merged with Gladiator, Clement, De Dion, Metropole and others in 1897 to form a large company that, with those combined resources, started to build motor tricycles.