The first ladies’ bicycles are what we now describe as single tube machines, similar to a loopframe but with an unsupported down tube. The female market was initially hypothetical. So, rather than build bicycles exclusively for women, some companies hedged their bets and made the type of bicycle you see here …a ‘Convertible’. It was a man’s machine, but with the top tube unbolted a woman could ride it in her skirt.
Within just a few years women had wholeheartedly embraced the new hobby and companies started building bicycles designed only for women. The ‘Convertible’ soon became a passing phase, a transitional model within the evolution of bicycles that was out of date almost before it was put onto the market. The main reason for its obsolescence is that it was not really suitable for female riders because machines of this time were still heavy and had 30″ wheels. When, by 1891, bicycles were designed exclusively for women, they weighed less and were also built to accept smaller wheels.