Rudge-Whitworth were rightly proud of their royal connection, which allowed them to display the statement ‘By Special Appointment to His Majesty King Edward and H.R.H The Prince of Wales’ in their adverts and catalogues. H.R.H Princess Victoria, who rode one of these bicycles, was the daughter of King Edward VII, and sister to George, the Duke of York, later King George V. The 1906 model was advertised thus:
‘AS RIDDEN BY H.R.H PRINCESS VICTORIA’
1906 No 2 Aero Special Rudge-Whitworth
28″ Wheels: Beaded Edge Aluminium ‘Roman’ Rims
Frame No 382693
This Ladies’ Rudge-Whitworth has survived in original unrestored condition remarkably intact. When I am offered a Rudge-Whitworth bicycle, the first thing I examine is the mudguards. The ridged design is unique to the company and they are more delicate than the more common curved mudguards found on other bicycles. The front one often rusts or is damaged at the bottom; the rears are often cracked from being picked up by the mudguard instead of by the frame. The mudguards on this example are in good condition so I know that it has been cherished throughout its lifetime.
There are two small cracks in the celluloid chaincase, the aluminium rims are tarnished, and the beaded edge tyres need replacing (supplied and fitted at point of sale). Otherwise the machine is very sound. The unrestored paintwork retains some of the original box lining and the nickel is a bit tarnished but more than presentable. As well as the mudguards, it has some interesting details unique to Rudge, such as its pump clips, and the oiler above the bottom bracket showing the company logo. Modern-day enthusiasts will appreciate other design features that hark back to the earlier cycle fashions – inverted lever brakes and the original Rudge-Whitworth ladies’ ‘four-bar’ (split) pedals in white rubber.
Because of its light weight and top quality manufacture from one of England’s leading cycle makers, this was one of the most popular ladies’ bicycles in 1906.
RUDGE-WHITWORTH: 1905 CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
RUDGE-WHITWORTH CLEAR CELLULOID GEARCASE
CYCLING MAGAZINE, 27th May, 1908:
‘WELL-KNOWN ACTRESSES WHO CYCLE’
FRAME No & UNDERSIDE
Roman rims were introduced in 1897. They were invented by Dr Reinhard Isidore Roman, and are made of Romanium, which is a patent alloy of aluminium.