1898 Rudge-Whitworth Racing Tricycle

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Tricycle Racing at Alexandra Park.

Though by the late 1890s cycle racing focussed more on two wheel machines, racing tricycles had been popular, and a lightweight tricycle such as this would have been designed as a result of the earlier demand for them in racing circles. Racing machines were a bespoke build and extremely lightweight with thin tubing, so they often only lasted for one racing season.

Cycle racing was the world’s primary spectator sport, so the publicity generated by a company’s racing successes (see below) was extremely good for business, and sales catalogues promoted path and road racing versions of the those used in competition. The machines available to the public used thicker tubing than the competitive models but were otherwise of similar design. By comparing the Light Roadster tricycle with the Special Racing tricycle in the 1896 catalogue, you can see that they are the same; but the latter, described as suitable for road racing, has a drop handlebar and optional items such as brake, chaincase and mudguards are not fitted. This example has 28″ wheels rather than 26″ mentioned in the catalogues; frame sizes are not stated, an indication that they were built to order.

1898 Rudge-Whitworth Racing Tricycle 

23″ Frame

28″ Wheels

Rudge-Whitworth ‘Model 101’ saddle

Starley 1892 Patent Rear Axle

Fixed wheel

This rare tricycle has been sympathetically restored and is in good all round condition. Its frame number is indistinct, but I interpret is as 893– which would tie in with the year 1898. The chainwheel style and design tallies with that age too, though it could be a year earlier; in 1899 the company introduced a new chainwheel. The Rudge-Whitworth saddle has a new leather top. New ‘Red Brick’ tyres and tubes are fitted. It has recently been serviced and is ready to ride.















































The first axle was patented by James Starley, in 1877 for his ‘Royal Salvo Tricycle’.

His son, William, improved on this in 1892, and it is this differential that is used in the Abingdon axle.

There’s a brass badge on the diff housing that states ‘Starley’s Patent No 7752 1892‘ and ‘King Dick’ which was Abingdon’s trade mark name for their cycles, accessories and tools. Later axles have the brass badge, but it just states ‘Abingdon.’



Museum for Rudge-Whitworth Cycles