Our registered Duplex Girder Frame, fitted to this graceful mount possesses many merits which should commend it to lady cyclists. It is very much stronger than, though of the same weight as the ordinary frame, and owing to its rigidity every ounce of power expended produces direct results; therefore the machine is extremely easy to ride and the efforts required for hill climbing are reduced to a minimum.
– 1912 Royal Enfield catalogue
Every company likes a gimmick. Crossframes or bicycles uniquely constructed with an extra tube were not only easily identifiable as the product of a particular maker, but the design also suggests extra rigidity and strength. Even if this is only a psychological rather than an actual advantage, it was still of great benefit in advertising and sales. Raleigh used their Superbe ‘X Frame’ as their top-of-the-range machine for over thirty years, until the early thirties. Premier’s ‘Royal’ and Centaur’s ‘Resilient’ fulfilled a similar function. Elswick’s ‘Trussframe’ had down tubes that crossed. Iver Johnson in America and Labor in France used an ‘Arch Frame’ which was extremely distinctive. And American ‘motobike’ styling used twin top tubes as standard, with an optional ‘tank’ between the tubes.
It cost these companies more money to provide unique tubing styles, and each of the manufacturers mentioned above made quality products in any case. But the problem for cycle companies was that there were a lot of ‘cowboy’ builders – so unique styling separated their products from the cheap rubbish also vying for unwary customer’s money.
The Enfield Cycle Co Ltd patented this ‘Girder’ design for Gent’s and Lady’s bicycles and introduced it in 1902. The ‘Duplex’ and the ‘Duplex Riche’ (introduced in 1907) became their flagship models. Most of the company’s advertising included one of these bicycles, either a Lady’s or a Gent’s. Royal Enfield ‘Duplex’ bicycles were so successful they continued in production until the late 1920s. This was probably past their ‘sell-by’ date, but by that time they appealed to nostalgic older riders who, again, would have been attracted by the feeling of extra safety in the design. Observe from the catalogue description that Royal Enfield also provided a 20″ frame model with 26″ wheels to appeal to women of shorter stature as well as older folk who preferred a ‘low-built’ bike where their feet could touch the ground. They also made an ‘open-frame’ 225cc motorcycle specifically for female riders: in the early days of motorcycling, many women (their interest nurtured by cycling) progressed to riding motorcycles, particularly lightweights. As a result of World War One, where women drove ambulances and buses, women represented a viable new market for motorcycle manufacturers.
The Lady’s Duplex looks like a cross frame at first glance, although further examination shows that the cross tube runs from the headstock to the down tube rather than to the bottom bracket.
Gent’s machines included both a ‘Standard Girder’ and a more expensive ‘Duplex Girder.’ The difference is the tube or tubes behind the bottom of the seat tube: a Girder has one short tube running to the rear stays behind the bottom bracket, while a Duplex has two.
1912 Royal Enfield Duplex Girder Lady’s
Model No 113
The Gent’s Girder frame Royal Enfields are now quite scarce. The Lady’s model is much rarer. In 1913 Royal Enfield changed the design of the lamp bracket and chainwheel, and this Duplex is one of the last to use the older open-style lamp bracket.
The Model 113 is in good condition all round, recently serviced with new Schwalbe tyres, original paintwork and – even rarer after a century of exposure to the elements – a readable Enfield Cycle Co Ltd headstock transfer.
LEATHERIES ‘L20L’ LADY’S SADDLE
The Leatheries Ltd, of Sampson Road North, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, was one of many saddle makers of the period. They were taken over by Brooks Saddles Ltd in the thirties.
1913 ROYAL ENFIELD DUPLEX LADY’S with 1904 ROYAL ENFIELD GIRDER LIGHTWEIGHT ROADSTER