1918 Iver Johnson Truss Bridge
28″ Metal Wheels
I bought this Truss Bridge Flyer at an auction. It had no wheels. American bicycles of this period were fitted with wooden wheels, while British bikes had steel wheels. The stranglehold that corrupt American industry had over the American public was a scandal. ‘Robber railroad barons’ had been notorious in the USA: when the safety bicycle was introduced in America, people rejoiced because they were so fed up with the railroads – the only option for long-distance travel – which provided poor service and high prices. However, in a similar vein, obsolete 28″ wooden wheels and tubular tyres were fitted to American bicycles from the 1890s right through to 1931! Thank goodness for Schwinn, who introduced 26″ wheels with inflatable balloon tyres in 1932, which immediately became the industry standard.
The New Departure hubs that came with the bike were for 36-spoke wheels. So I found a pair of 36-spoke stainless steel wheels and the hubs were built into them.
In the USA, the bike would have been fitted with 32/40 spoked wheels. With Major Taylor’s racing success in France in the first decade of the century, I assume Iver Johnson bicycles were sold in France. France used 36-spoked wheels. So perhaps these 36-spoke New Departure hubs mean that the bike was originally sold in France.
Wooden wheels do look nice, but are a nuisance because they require tubeless tyres, which are no longer manufactured. This wheel-set is therefore a much more practical option.
The saddle is a long-spring Troxel, as fitted to early American motorcycles.
TRUST THE TRUSS