In the cycle industry at the turn of the 20th century innovation and invention was rife, and it was believed that improving suspension on bicycles would be an important factor in the development of the new-fangled motor bicycle. Bear in mind that in this era before cars and motorcycles took over, proper roads were few and far between around the world, and the topic of strength in bicycles and comfort for riders was a current topic in the cycling press.
In America, ‘cushion frames’ (cycles with shock absorbers on the rear fork) had just come onto the market. The British felt it was their patriotic duty to go one better, and the BSA Spring Frame was the result. It not only had two shock absorbers on the rear forks, but the whole frame was articulated, with two pivot points on the top tube, and one each at the bottom of the down tube and seat tube, above the bottom bracket.
The engineering was superb, and it was an immediate success. Not only was it light enough to compete adequately in timed road trials, but the construction was sturdy enough for long-distance riding on rough roads, as proven by Francis Birtles when he rode a BSA Spring Frame across Australia.
Although the BSA Spring Frame was imported in knock-down form into Australia and helped to launch their motorcycle industry, the girder front fork was subsequently developed for motorcycles, and as this was a much cheaper option than a spring frame it soon took over motorcycle suspension duties. The BSA Spring Frame was still being advertised by the company in their 1907 fittings catalogue, though not as prominently as before. By 1909 it was no longer illustrated and, in 1910, by popular demand and alongside their fittings, at last BSA offered complete bicycles for sale. The era of the spring frame was over.
1907 BSA Spring Frame Roadster
Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear (#155241, dated 1907)
BSA front rim brake
Bowden back rim brake with inverted lever
The BSA Spring Frame is a relic of a lost era. This example is in superb all round condition, with various interesting features of the period, such as Bowden cable-operated back brake with inverted lever (introduced in 1906) and an early model of Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gear, which was introduced in 1906 and superceded in 1908. It was recently serviced and is ready to ride.
1905 BSA CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1906 BOWDEN CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1906 STURMEY-ARCHER CATALOGUE EXTRACTS