THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE BICYCLE: The Ladies’ Raleigh X Frame is a confection, a bicycle designed to stand out from the crowd and pay the advertising department’s wages.
A gentleman’s crossframe was supposedly better at withstanding stress under speed. The elegant Centaur crossframe, for example, had a lightweight frame with narrow tubing and was the best for fast riding. Raleigh’s X Frame, meanwhile, was more robust, so was ideal for rough roads and was particularly favoured in the Colonies.
If a woman wanted to ride fast, athletic prowess was best rewarded with a man’s machine. A lady’s loopframe has no top tube so can be mounted discreetly while wearing a dress, and its upright position ensures that it is ridden politely. A lady’s X frame is the ultimate version of the loopframe and, before World War One, the Raleigh X Frame was the world’s most expensive bicycle.
But the additional strengthening afforded by the extra tubes serves no real purpose in a lady’s bicycle, as strength under duress is hardly required at average speeds, and certainly does not justify the extra expenditure for any practical reason.
Miss Phyllis Dare, darling of the theatre, promoted the model in all the cycling magazines and newspapers. With Miss Mabel Love likewise promoting Elswick’s ‘cross truss’, there’s no doubt that such endorsement turned cross-frames, for a while, into the latest fashion in ladies’ cycling.
1911 Raleigh Modele Superbe Ladies X Frame
‘Model No 16’ with
Concealed Roller Lever Brakes
Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed Gear
Brooks ‘Model 42’ Lady’s Saddle
Raleigh Inflator Pump & Toolbag
Frame No 329987
21st CENTURY DEBUT: Modele Superbe No 329987 is recent barn find. I’ve replaced one tyre, two inner tubes and the gear cable, and carefully cleaned the original paint. It’s a testament to the high quality of Raleigh’s paintwork that after years of neglect, during which the nickel has suffered considerably, this much original paint, gold lining and transfers (decals) has survived. An interesting feature is the ‘Concealed Roller Lever Brake’, patented by Lea Francis and offered as an option by Raleigh. As befits a 107-year-old beauty making her 21st century debut, I’ve given her some jewellery. For her photocall this week in Ovingdean, she wears a dainty lady’s bell, green Raleigh inflator pump and leather Raleigh toolbag fitted to a Brooks ‘Model 42’ Lady’s saddle.
MISS PHYLLIS DARE & HER RALEIGH CYCLE
CONCEALED ROLLER LEVER BRAKES
1913 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1911 RALEIGH CATALOGUE EXTRACTS