The Elswick Cycle Co was one of the pioneers, at the turn of the century, of cross frame roadster styles. Their ‘Cross Truss’ – so-called because the twin down tubes crossed – was their most stylish model. It was on the market, with only minor updates, from 1900 until 1937. The company also produced a tandem with a cross tube pointing toward the bottom bracket; this was a common tandem design, but is also reminiscent of cross frame styling. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the company’s ‘Utility’ carrier bicycle also featured a cross frame design. You can see the similarities in the illustration below.
1933 Elswick Utility Low-Gravity Carrier
26 x 1 3/4″ Rear Wheel
20 x 1 3/8″ Front Wheel
Frame Number 11323Y
Deep Front Carrier with Matching Lidded Basket
With its cross frame design and deep front carrier, a 1930s Elswick Utility is easily identifiable among otherwise similar trade bikes. This design was advanced for its day. As Elswick’s ‘Cross Truss’ was one of the two best-selling cross frames through the first three decades of the 20th century (the other was the Raleigh X Frame), a similar style in carrier bicycles enabled the company to become one of the leaders in this field too.
I first came across this Elswick Utility in 2009 at an auction in Essex. I bid on this as well as a Phillips, but another bidder was keener than me. Recently that buyer decided to pass them both on and I ended up with them after all. Patience is a virtue in the vintage bicycle collecting hobby. This Elswick now feels like an old friend.
The machine has been lightly restored, with the paint touched up where required. The chrome is good all round. The saddle is an interesting heavy duty size 90/3 model, the same size as a Brooks 90/3, but in rubber. The heavy duty pedals are the same as fitted to military bicycles in WW2. The advertising board is ready for sign-writing. The deep basket is particularly rare; as the dimensions of front basket framework on carrier bikes was not standardised, this deep lidded basket, in excellent condition, would have been specially made for the Elswick Utility model. The basket measures 24″ x 16″ at the top and is 18″ deep.
I particularly like the unique feature, below, in the brake linkage of the Elswick Utility.
1935 ELSWICK CARRIER CYCLE CATALOGUE