1909 Chater Lea X frame Lady-back Tandem

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‘Raleigh used pressed steel lugs that they made in their factory. Chater Lea bought a licence to market the design of machine Raleigh introduced as the “X-frame”, but they only made the components (which were cast lugs) which were then supplied mainly to small builders who filed and finished them off when the frame was assembled. Raleigh made complete bicycles; Chater Lea, however, did not market complete machines at that time, but, like BSA, would offer to supply a complete frame along with built up wheels leaving the rest to the individual maker to decide what components to complete it with; some C-L parts might have been used to make a complete C-L machine, but not always if the customer wanted to keep the costs down.’

– Andrew Millward, Raleigh marque enthusiast, Veteran Cycle Club

By the early 1900s, so many unique designs for cross frame bicycles (also known as X frames) had been registered that it was difficult to create one that did not infringe on one of the dominant patents. However, they were very popular with the public, so cycle makers wanted to sell them.
The only way was to pay a license fee. As you can see from the illustration in their 1905 catalogue (below), Chater Lea used Raleigh’s X frame design under license, describing it as “X Frame, Raleigh Pattern”.
This wonderful survivor is the ‘No 6’ model, with ‘semi-open’ (X frame) front and loopframe rear. The X frame front made it very versatile as two women could also easily ride it. The rear handlebar is a very rare feature.


1909 Chater Lea No 6 Lady-back Tandem

with Semi-open front (Raleigh X frame patent)

and Adjustable Tandem Back Handlebar

Frame: 22.5″ front & 22″ rear 

26 x 1 1/2″ Wheels

Brooks Model B66 Gents & B73 Ladies saddles

Frame No 270

(Now sold)

A wonderful survivor of a bygone age, this Chater Lea X frame tandem is an older restoration that’s still in good order throughout. The ‘Adjustable Tandem Back Handlebar’ (as it is described in the 1909 Chater Lea catalogue) is a superb feature. The rubber pedals are also illustrated in the catalogue. I fitted new tyres last week and it’s ready to ride.






















Bearing in mind the catalogue illustrations above, illustrating Chater Lea X Frame bicycles being advertised by various suppliers, we are no longer certain whether the Chater Lea X Frame below was supplied directly by the company or by a third party supplier.

[Owned by my friend Robert; photographed when I delivered it to him]



















Extract from the book THE TANDEM, by James Peatling