1906 Centaur Featherweight Cross-Frame Roadster

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1906 Centaur Featherweight Cross-Frame Roadster

Was ever feather so lightly blown…

– Henry IV

The 1880s and 1890s was a period of great innovation in bicycle design and saw the introduction of many weird and wonderful variations on the theme. But by the end of the Victorian era, cycle design had become established and the overwhelming majority followed a standard pattern. Two bicycles were the exception.

The Centaur Featherweight and the Dursley Pedersen stood out from the crowd, their innovative design features unsurpassed by their competitors, and the same expenditure would enable a discerning gentleman rider of the day to choose between either of these fabulous roadsters.

The difference between the two was that Dursley Pedersen had difficulties marketing their machine, whereas the Centaur Featherweight caught the public imagination and was an outstanding success. It was not the first cross-frame on the market, nor the cheapest, but it was considered the best in its class. Says Archibald Sharp of The Cyclist magazine while comparing the Centaur with the Dursley Pedersen in road tests:

‘…very easy running perhaps the fastest road machine I have ever ridden but slightly less comfortable for the same wheel and tyres as a diamond frame.’

This particular example has a 28″ frame and is therefore frustratingly too tall for me to ride. Nevertheless, being a cross-frame, I was at least able to get my leg over to ride it standing up 🙂

The architecture of Brighton Pier is not usually judged by its undercarriage. But the girders supporting this Victorian masterpiece evoke that of the Centaur’s twin crossbars, duplex front forks and rear stays. Each are fine examples of the engineering prowess of late Victorian Britain …and I am pleased to report that while carrying the machine across the sand and under the pier to take these photos, the machine certainly lived up to its Featherweight name.

At a time when few cycle lamps were electric, this innovative battery-powered cycle headlamp was made by British Ever Ready Electrical Co Ltd. The American company had recently established a British subsidiary.




The inflator pump advertises Clincher tyres, which were manufactured by the North British Tyre Co.



(From the 1906 Centaur Catalogue)