…In November 1894, Humber & Co. Ltd of Beeston placed an order for 10,000 pairs of pedals. This firm had the bulk of the trade in cycles among the upper classes who at this time had taken to the pastime in all parts of Great Britain. The London parks were swarming each day with people of every class who were learning to ride bicycles of the safety type and the retail price of the Humber machine was anything from £20 to £35. BSA could now see what it would have meant to them if manufacture of their own safety bicycle had not been previously dropped.
In April 1895 it became evident that the cycle fittings business of the company would become of greater importance than anyone had anticipated, possibly even of greater importance than the rifle department, and that it was necessary to consider the building of new offices and other extensions to the factory.
In August 1895, BSA planned the manufacture of complete cycle frames for sale to the trade and also component parts designed for ladies’ bicycles.
– from ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: HISTORY of MILITARY BICYCLES in the GREAT WAR, by Colin Kirsch
This rare BSA Fittings Machine pre-dates the Ladies Straight Frame illustrated in the 1896/97 BSA catalogue – the down tubes are a different arrangement, narrowing at the bottom end rather than the steering head end. It is similar to earlier designs, such as the 1894 Townend Bros Ladies Safety, illustrated below.
1896/1897 BSA Ladies Straight Frame
28″ Front wheel; 26″ rear wheel
Exonite handlebar grips
With overwhelming demand from the cycle trade for components, BSA introduced fittings for Ladies’ frames in their 1896 catalogue. Two designs were offered, a loop frame and a straight frame.
I spotted this example in a friend’s shed last week and ended up buying it. He’d shown it to me previously over the past few years, but it was hanging right at the back of his storage so I’d not got close enough to notice it was a BSA. I added a Christy saddle, and sooner or later I’ll do a few extra photos of it alongside one of my gents’ BSAs of the same era.
BSA FITTINGS CATALOGUE EXTRACTS, 1896-1897 SEASON
COTTERED PEDAL CRANKS
Extract from ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: HISTORY of MILITARY BICYCLES in the GREAT WAR
THE CHRISTY ANATOMICAL SADDLE
1896 BSA FITTINGS RACING FRAME