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Until the motorcycle and automobile started to make inroads on its popularity from around 1905 onwards, cycle racing was the world’s leading sporting event and its winners were accorded the fame that we associate now with TV and movie stars.
Cycle manufacturers sponsored well-known racers of the day to help promote their own products, and built special lightweight racing bicycles for them. Due to their more delicate frames, and the frequent abuse the machines suffered in competition, few of the actual track racers have survived.
However, to trade off the publicity from their racing successes, the companies also built more sturdy versions of the racers for public sale. These were offered in two forms: ‘road racers’ with mudguards and accessories, and ‘path racers’ which were fitted with the minimum of extras to reduce their weight, and often without brakes. The frame styles of both road and path racers followed the lines of the racing machines to varying degrees. For example, a customer could buy either style of bicycle with a downward sloping top tube that had a radical drop, or just a one inch drop. Handlebars could be racing drop style or roadster type. A customer had complete choice in what he ordered from a manufacturer: the ‘models’ shown in their catalogues were purely suggestions and, if the cycle company did not offer exactly what was required they would build it for the customer as a special order.
In the early years of the industry, Singer had been the world’s leading cycle company. Even though, by 1912, they had moved into motorcycle and car production and those areas were now their priority, they still had a loyal customer base for bicycle sales up to World War One. (After the War, the company was sold to the ‘Premier Cycle Co’).
1912 Singer Path Racer
Sloping Top Tube with 1 inch Drop
Frame No 266137
1908 STANLEY CYCLE SHOW
SINGER & Co Ltd, Stand No 120:
We are glad to find Messrs. Singer and Co. again among the exhibitors at the Stanley Show, and have little doubt that their present display will encourage them to take part in the future exhibitions held by the club. They have quite a long range of patterns at 6, 7, 8, 10 and 14 guineas in bicycles, and 18 and 20 guineas in tricycles, while juvenile machines are shown at 5 guineas for boys and £5 10s. for girls. The 6 guinea “Royal” is fitted with Cambridge tyres, roller brakes, and is finished with lining on the enamel. The next higher price includes Dunlop tyres and Brooks’ saddle. The 8 guinea model is finished in green, and there is a “Special Speed” model at this price, with wood rims, cemented-on tyres, and celluloid covered handlebars. It weighs about 20 lbs., and those who are familiar with the model will recognise that the price has been considerably reduced for the coming season. The 10 guinea type is an excellent machine. It is finished in black and gold, and has oil-bath gear-case and extended front mudguard. Only one guinea extra is charged for either a two or three-speed gear on this model. The Grand also has an oil-bath gear-case, and is finished in either the well-known Singer chocolate or in black, with gold lines. The back and front rim brakes are provided with enclosed springs, and present a neat appearance. The tricycle has the well-constructed Singer back axle, and is made in two grades, as already intimated. It is built in patterns suitable for use by ladies and gentlemen respectively, and a free-wheel can be fitted at an extra charge of two guineas.
1910 SINGER MODELE DE LUXE TOURIST