While Raleigh’s top model was the ‘Modele Superbe X Frame’, Elswick competed with their ‘Gentleman’s Elswick Special Cross Truss.’ Both were top-selling quality machines, and the market leaders. The Elswick Cross Truss remained Elswick’s flagship model until 1937, by which time even Raleigh’s X Frame production had ended.
Raleigh had already patented the cross-frame (X frame) design, and it became their top product in the early years of the twentieth century. The other dominant cross-frame patent was by G.L Morris of Referee Cycle Co. If they wished to avoid paying patent fees to Raleigh or Referee, other manufacturers who wished to cash in on Raleigh’s success had to create a different style of cross-frame. To see how Elswick got around the patent issue with their cross-frame, observe the bottom tubes. The Elswick design is unique: the two top tubes are the CROSS and the two down tubes that cross each other are the TRUSS, making it a Cross Truss Frame.
1930s Gentleman’s Elswick Special Cross Truss
Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear
With exports in full swing, the 1920s were peak production years for Elswick’s famous Cross Truss. This model was one of Great Britain’s most distinctive bicycles. When introduced at the turn of the century it was in response to public worries about frame strength. At 41lb, Elswick’s cross truss is a medium-weight machine, made with longevity in mind. The other factor in the public mind in the early 1900s was suspension: spring frames and cushion frames had made their appearance by 1898. Although, in retrospect, they can be seen as a bit of a gimmick – experimentation with suspension was actually to help companies design bicycles suitable for mounting engines – cross frames did provide extra ‘spring’ and you can feel this when the bicycle is being ridden at speed.
This Cross Truss was repainted many years ago and is in good usable condition, mechanically restored and with a practical Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear.
With their unique designs, British X frame bicycles have invariably been snapped up by collectors across the world in recent years. The Elswick, however, is more than just a cross frame – its trademark feature is more like a ‘double X frame!’ 🙂
EXTRACTS FROM 1937 ELSWICK CATALOGUE
EXTRACTS FROM 1927 ELSWICK CATALOGUE
ELSWICK’S CROSS TRUSS FRAME