1898 Iver Johnson Fitchburg Gentlemen’s Roadster

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Cycle racing was the world’s most popular sport in the 1890s and early 20th century. The succes of the ‘Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works’ on the race track provided a massive boost to the company’s bicycle sales, particularly when they launched their truss frame machine in 1900 (above and below).


1898 Iver Johnson Model F Fitchburg Gentlemen’s Roadster

22″ Frame

28″ wooden wheels



Iver Johnson ended their ‘Fitchburg’ range of bicycles in 1898. American cycle manufacturers were having problems at this time because of over-production in the industry, and had to consolidate their models. Nevertheless, within a few years Iver Johnson introduced their new flagship model, the Truss, and they became one of the leading US cycle makers.

As a result, most of the surviving early Iver Johnson bicycles are truss bridge models, and pre-1900 diamond frame IJ’s are scarce. I’ve looked for one for many years, so I was happy to buy this barn find, particularly as it has my favourite IJ headbadge, with a ceramic insert in the centre.

These photos show it assembled out of the box. There’s a repair on the left side pedal crank. And the saddle and grips are nice but wrong for it; I’ll replace them in due course. I must also decide what route to take regarding its wheels – whether to retain these and swap with a metal wheelset for riding; or to remove the petrified tyres and fit replacements. For now, I’ll enjoy looking at it ‘as found’ and attend to its requirements in a few months when I have more time.