WHY BUY YOUR MACHINE WITH B.S.A. FITTINGS FROM THE SMALL MAKER?
1. BECAUSE BSA Fittings are made in one quality only, recognized as the best.
2. BECAUSE the machine will cost much less than an equally high-grade machine from the large maker, as the small maker has not the expenses of a larger establishment to maintain.
3. BECAUSE the small maker depends on his local patrons, and, unless unduly cut down in price, it pays him to maintain his reputation by using only the very best materials and workmanship.
4. BECAUSE the small maker enjoys the benefit of the practical detailed instructions, issued by the BSA Company when supplying the Fittings.
5. BECAUSE the small maker is a Practical Man, who gives personal attention to his customers’ orders.
6. BECAUSE the Cyclist can visit the workshop, see his machine in process of construction and inspect the materials used.
7. BECAUSE the Cyclist can specify any make of Tyre, Rim, Saddle, etc which he may favour.
8. BECAUSE the small maker can execute repairs quickly and cheaply. The Cyclist thus saves the correspondence, delays, worries and expense, entailed in sending his machine to a large maker.
9. BECAUSE BSA Fittings are absolutely interchangeable, and are sold by almost every cycle factor in the Kingdom – an advantage, in case of replacements or repairs, which cannot be over-estimated.
– 1900 BSA Catalogue
1899 Roadster Machine built entirely of BSA Fittings
Fixed Wheel, with Inch Pitch Chain
28 x 1 3/4″ Dunlop Welch Rims
Original Tyres: Front Warwick Roadster; Rear Dunlop Magnum
As you can see from BSA’s description at the top of the page, local cycle shops bought in BSA’s top quality fittings to attach to their own frames in order to provide bicycles to each customer’s specification. BSA did not manufacture or supply complete bicycles in 1899.
I don’t have an 1899 catalogue. You can compare this 1899 machine with the line drawing below, from the 1900 BSA catalogue, which shows where the BSA trademark is situated on a frame.
The 1900 catalogue also illustrates a suggestion of a finished BSA Fittings Bicycle. Of course, with frames constructed by different builders, every one of these BSA Fittings Bicycles was different.
This 1899 BSA Fittings Bicycle has an unusual frame size of 26 1/2″ but that’s the nature of making bicycle frames to order. It appears to have been in storage for many years, and was presumably hung up, as it’s fitted with original tyres of the period in surprisingly good condition for tyres over 100 years old, a Warwick First Grade on the front and a Dunlop Magnum on the rear.
On this page you can compare the fittings on this 1899 machine with relevant illustrations from the 1900 catalogue.
BSA CYCLE FITTINGS INNOVATIONS 1896-1904
IMPROVEMENTS AND ULTIMATE STANDARDIZATION
Further improvements in 1896-7 included the making of B.S.A. Block Chains, 1/4in. in width, for the manufacture of which a special plant, embodying the latest developments in cycle chain making machinery, had been added to the works. This season also saw the listing for the first time of B.S.A. Frames for ladies’ and gents’ machines. B.S.A. Handlebars were also manufactured at this time, and the famous B.S.A. Spanners, designed to fit all sizes of B.S.A. nuts, which had been carefully standardized, were first produced. The following year standardization was more fully recognised as being expedient and desirable, and the catalogue for 1898 makes mention of the fact that the standard patterns of the previous year would remain practically the same, as no alterations were deemed necessary. A plant for the production of brake-work was installed during 1898, and the B.S.A. Plunger Front Brake was first listed in that year ; the brake-shoe being fitted with patent rubber brushes or solid rubber blocks as desired. A malleable iron foundry was added at this time, and also a plant for making steel balls.
In 1899, although as previously stated the general design of bicycle frame had become practically standard, and the method of drive by chain to the back wheel was the invariable practice, numerous improvements in detail were made with a view to securing ease of propulsion and the transmission of the maximum amount of power from the rider to the back wheel. To this end a new chain wheel was produced by the B.S.A. Company, with more than twenty teeth-which number had hitherto been the maximum ; wheels for 1⁄2 in. pitch roller chains were made 3/16 in. wide roller chains of the same size were produced, and at the same time the chain wheel was made detachable from the crank. To ensure greater strength and longer service, the side plates of rat-trap pedals were also fitted with stays. The famous B.S.A. Cam Chain Adjustment was also introduced in the same year.
FEATURES THAT SEALED THE POPULARITY OF THE BICYCLE
The following year, 1900, saw the introduction of the B.S.A. Free Wheel Clutch and the B.S.A. Back-pedalling Rim Brake, both of which achieved instant popularity. It is interesting to recall that the B.S.A. design for 1900 provided a somewhat longer wheel base on account of the demand for long cranks. A Front Pull-up Rim Brake was designed in 1901, and B.S.A. Mudguards and stays were first made in the same year. Fittings supplied by the B.S.A. Company in 1902 included sets for path racer, light roadster, full roadster, and ladies’ machines.
The B.S.A. Free Wheel Hub, made in 1902, was a combined hub and free wheel clutch so arranged that wheels could be built and the spokes easily inserted or removed without dismounting any portion of it. The B.S.A. Free Wheels, which fitted all B.S.A. Hubs, proved, however, the more popular, and the manufacture of the combined hub and free wheel was discontinued. This year saw the introduction of the practice of slotting B.S.A. Fork Ends to obviate the necessity for springing the forks when removing a wheel. A new set of fittings for path racer machines was also introduced, featuring a sloping top bar, light in weight, and built for speed. It is noteworthy that during the following years numerous famous racing men made some of their finest records on these machines.
On the race track both J. S. Benyon and A. E. Wills scored many successes on B.S.A. Bicycles. The first-named was probably the best short distance rider of his day, while the latter rider achieved some remarkable successes in long-distance motor-paced races on the Continent.
Amongst road racing cyclists two representative B.S.A. riders were T. Peck and C. Moss. T. Peck was the first cyclist to ride from Land’s End to John o’ Groat’s, 8371 miles, under three days. Many extraordinary rides were accomplished by C. Moss, amongst them being the winning outright of the Bath Road 100 miles Cup, for fastest time three consecutive years, on the third occasion his record being well under 5 hours.
THE WAR OFFICE ADOPTS B.S.A. FITTINGS
The year 1902, was an eventful one for the B.S.A. Company, for in that year the War Office adopted B.S.A. Fittings for Military Bicycles, and the majority of bicycles used by the War Office from that time onward were built of B.S.A. Fittings. No higher compliment could be paid to the B.S.A. Company than this adoption by the War Office of the productions of the Cycle Department, after their many years’ experience of the absolute reliability of the firm’s rifles.
In 1904 the B.S.A. Company manufactured a Rear Rim Brake with Pull-up Lever. Up till then the use of rim brakes had been confined to the front wheel.
DUNLOP WELCH 28 x 1 3/4″ WHEEL RIM
THE WARWICK ‘FIRST GRADE’ TYRE
BSA B90/3A SADDLE
This early ‘named’ BSA saddle is even rarer than the bicycle.
BSA REAR HUB
BSA PATENT REAR WHEEL CAM ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM
DUNLOP WELCH WHEEL RIM
DUNLOP MAGNUM TYRE
BEHOLD ST. CHRISTOPHER
‘GO YOUR WAY IN SAFETY’
St. Christopher was initially a religious icon but, in an era when independent long-distance travel could be risky, his badges and medallions were used more generally for added protection.
If you were travelling outside your local area in many parts of Europe in 1899, a pistol might also be handy. ‘Highwaymen’ had declined by the 1830s due to increased urbanization and the establishment of effective police forces, but a lone cyclist on a country road was not common. Since most cyclists at this time were well-heeled, they were still sometimes prey to opportunist robbers, so fitting a St. Christopher badge to your bicycle is an understandable precaution.
1899 DUPLEX DOUBLE RESERVOIR CARBIDE BICYCLE LAMP
Miller, Daniels & Walsh,
63 Reade street, New York, USA