1904 BSA Lady’s Spring-Frame

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…BSA is introducing an elastic-framed bicycle in which the vibration is absorbed by three coiled springs secreted in the tubes of the frame. Two of these are in the back stays immediately under the saddle, and one in the top tube of the frame, Telescopic tubes are fitted at these three points, and thus the springs are allowed to absorb the vibration from the road surface. Four knuckle joints give the necessary vertical play to the frame, two near the bracket and one at either end of the top tube. In neither of the above devices is the distance from the saddle to the pedal altered by the elasticity of the frame, but the knuckle joints in the frame of the B.S.A machine are not desirable features.

– Report from the 1900 Stanley Cycle Show

The Birmingham Small Arms Co was formed to supply guns to the British government whenever they were required, so government orders always took priority over anything else the company manufactured. BSA built complete bicycles and tricycles at various times over the years, each time stopping to fulfill government arms orders. In the 1890s they started making and selling cycle fittings due to overwhelming demand and became the world’s leading components supplier (for quality as much as volume of trade).
The Boer War (1899-1902) was the first time that bicycles were used officially by a country’s army (on both sides). BSA were contracted to supply a military bicycle to the British government, which was approved in 1901. Meanwhile, various cycle companies were starting to make ‘motor bicycles’. As the weight of an engine required improved suspension, a variety of innovations were introduced in bicycle manufacture to test such ideas. A springframe was designed by Mansell Jones, and in 1901 it was patented and built by BSA.
BSA sold the springframe as a complete machine as well as supplying it in knock-down form, which was favoured by trade purchasers, and for Commonwealth countries such as Australia to avoid import duty.
Apart from the springframe and the military model, BSA sold only fittings (with or without the frame parts to build up a complete machine) until 1910 when they started making complete bicycles again. In the 1910s they reported that in the home market complete BSA bicycles were favoured over sets of fittings, while internationally the opposite was true.

1904 BSA Lady’s Spring-Frame

23″ Frame

28″ Wheels

BSA Saddle

BSA Inflator pump

Lucas ‘No 61’ Bell

G.W Scott & Sons ‘Coracle’ Two-person Tea Basket







Compare the Spring-frame with the normal BSA Fittings Lady’s loop frame from 1900, seen below




















































144 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2

The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, made her fast, helped awkward Mole safely ashore, and swung out the luncheon basket. The Mole begged to be allowed to unpack it all by himself…. [He] took out all the mysterious packets one by one and arranged their contents, gasping ‘Oh my! Oh my!’ at each fresh revelation.

‘The Wind in the Willows’, (1908)

The company has a long history, being founded in 1661; a set of their 1704 daybooks and accounts are are preserved in County Hall Record Office at Westminster. They made every type of basket, from simple affairs, to silver baskets for Buckingham Palace and (after the Crimean War of 1854-6) cane frames for the bearskins of the Brigade of Guards.

They invented the picnic basket and exhibited it at the Great Exhibition of 1851, which was held in Crystal Palace. Picnics became hugely fashionable in the years to follow. From Kings and Queens, to gentry and everyday people, picnics were taken and enjoyed both on a family’s own land, as well as in public parks and at the seaside.

In late Victorian Britain, the railway allowed cheap travel for families, increasing the popularity of picnic hampers. A two-person tea set such as that featured here was practical for train journeys and this style was designed to sit on the table between the passengers, with the top open and leaning against the window.

Prior to the introduction of the freewheel hub in 1898, the ’emergency exit’ for a fixed wheel bicycle was towards the rear. This precluded the stowage of luggage behind the saddle. The freewheel led to the improvement of brakes, but, more significantly, it also allowed the use of rear carrier racks for the first time. The first of these was patented by H.G Turner of Manchester, and they soon became commonplace on bicycles. This two-person tea set can also be easily strapped to the rear carrier rack of a bicycle.








New Designs & Devices: The B.S.A. Spring Frame.

The roads, in many parts being in the condition of frozen and muddy ruts, afforded the most favourable opportunity for extreme trial and testing quite thoroughly the new design of spring frame made by the B.S.A.Co.

The springs affecting the rider are actuated by means of a telescoping arrangement, and are contained in the two back seat stays below the seat pillar lug.  These springs are made of strengths to correspond with the weight of the actual rider, and no doubt much importance should be attached to this point in order to obtain the very best results.  To allow for this telescoping arrangement of the back seat stays, a telescoping immediately in front of the saddle of the horizontal top tube is provided, which latter is hinged at the forward end, and seat pillar lugs are also hinged at the brackets of the front down tube and seat tube, so that vertically the whole frame is flexible, except that part of it to which the driving power is applied.  All this is successfully carried out, the object of counteracting vibration being fully attained, and the rider who desires the utmost lightness without the incidental vibration – a concomitant of small, lightweight rims, tyres and saddle – will find, when riding the new B.S.A. Spring Frame, that he is as comfortably, or even luxuriously, seated as if he were on a weightier framed machine with one-and-three-quarter inch tyres, and a coiled saddle.

The ‘raison d’être’ of what, at first glance, appears to be elaborating an expensive design to eliminate vibration as much as possible, will be more readily understood when one realises that to reduce weight, especially at the wheel peripheries, which means vibration is an ever present makers aim at solving, so that the B.S.A. are to be congratulated in at least having made a move in the direction of- without adding to the weight of the frame –  Securing less weight at the peripheries and immunity from effects of vibration.  To sum up, one has but to be reminded of the sensation felt after a long railway journey to understand what vibration means, and, though lest able to realise it, that it is a well proved fact that for ease of propulsion, one ounce of weight at the periphery is equal to sixteen ounces on any other part of a machine carried on it.

Since my notes on spring frame bicycles, I have had the opportunity of trying the B.S.A. speciality.  It is a very comfortable and easy running mount, and by reason of its special construction no power is wasted in the drive.  The B.S.A. is the lightest of the spring frames.  The makers state the weight to be 28lbs., I found it to be three-quarters of a pound heavier.  This weight is for a machine complete with mudguards and two brakes.  I may, however, add that 26 inch wheels are fitted, and these help towards the reduced weight.  The benefit of the reduced vibration is chiefly experienced from the saddle , comparatively little from the handlebar.  The rear portion of the machine is practically isolated from shocks of an uneven road, but the construction does little towards removing the vibrations from the riders hands and arms.  The reason for this is that there is no spring in the front fork, it is rigid, as in an ordinary machine.  Consequently most of the vibration from the front wheel is transmitted to the riders hands and arms as usual.

I admit that the vibration is lessened somewhat by the telescoping actions of the top tube between head and seat pillar, but the vibration has to pass the handlebar first.  If a spring fork was fitted the vibration would be largely absorbed before reaching the handlebar, and in my opinion the machine would thereby be improved for its purpose.











The Rise of the Picnic Hamper – http://www.oxfordsymposium.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Noyce.pdf