SOUND TO THE CORE: Government engineers officially approved the Columbia Military Model for use in the World War. It is significant of the sturdiness of construction and utter trustworthiness of this model that it was selected as the Standard Bicycle for the United States Army. Completely equipped, finished in distinctive military drab, being of double bar construction and seamless tubes throughout and sound to the core, it is one of the best-value products ever produced by Westfield.
– 1919 Columbia Sales Brochure
By 31st December, 1918, Columbia had shipped 22,502 military bicycles to France. Including military models from other manufacturers, the total number of American military bicycles delivered to France in 1917 and 1918 was 26, 407.
1917/1918 WW1 Columbia Military Model
U.S Army Issue
28″ Metal Wheels
Frame No USA748
Interesting features include a saddle stamped USA (United States Army) into the leather, and the Columbia military serial number USA748 under the bottom bracket. The low number suggests 1917 manufacture.
These photos show it just out of our workshops, where it has had rust-preventative liquid applied to the frame and new tyres fitted. Its mudguards (fenders), one handlebar grip and pedal rubbers are missing, but it is otherwise complete. The Eclipse coaster brake has been serviced and operates freely.
One detail we observed is that all the nuts on the bicycle are American AF size except the saddle nut which is British 5/8″ Whitworth. I compared it with the saddle on a similar Columbia Military Model I already own (found in France 6 years ago) and it’s identical. The wheel size is 28 x 1 3/4″.
‘USA’ SERIAL NUMBER on BOTTOM BRACKET
UNITED STATES ARMY (USA) SADDLE
MORROW COASTER HUB
ECLIPSE MACHINE CO
Before coaster hubs were invented (they came onto the market in 1897/1898), the Eclipse Bicycle Co of Elmira, NY, manufactured bicycles. The advert below is from 1896.
The advert below is from BOY’S LIFE: The Boy Scouts Magazine, March, 1918.