By the turn of the century, the ‘novelty’ of the bicycle had ended and increasing competition forced down prices. The machine was now becoming an essential form of transportation rather than just a plaything for those who could afford it. In order to appeal to a wider market, manufacturers invested increasing amounts of money to find new aids to safer cycling.
With death and injury common – to riders and pedestrians alike – when cyclists coasted down hills without brakes, the invention of an efficient braking system became a priority.
The freewheel hub, introduced in 1898, provided a boon to the creation of better brakes and, in the following four years, many different types of front and rear brake were invented and fitted to bicycles. The majority were only in production for a short time as, by around 1904, the rim brake became the industry standard in Britain and the coaster brake in the USA.
So it is interesting 110 years later, with the benefit of hindsight, to examine various braking systems from the early years that were subsequently superseded. Along with the other now obscure systems such as the band brake favoured by companies such as Humber, Sunbeam and Triumph, and Sunbeam’s own patent back pedal brake introduced in 1900, BSA’s patent Back-pedalling Brake was available when customers bought a bicycle built with BSA fittings.
1900 BSA BACK-PEDALLING BRAKE
SHORT VIDEO OF BSA 1900 BACK-PEDALLING BRAKE
1900 High Frame Machine with Double Top Tube built entirely of BSA Fittings
Fitted with BSA Back-pedalling Brake