1887 ‘The Singer Safety’ (Semi-Diamond Cross Frame)
First Pattern, with Open Steering
30″ Equal Wheels
Singer was one of the world’s leading cycle manufacturers by the time the Safety Bicycle was introduced in 1886. The ‘Singer Safety’ went through many incarnations in its first few years, with updated versions being introduced as soon as the company was able to add further innovations (though its model name remained the same).
This, the first pattern with this frame style, features open steering, more commonly associated with 1886. This was superseded by socket steering by the time the company issued their main 1887 catalogue, though their 1887 ‘Apollo No 2’ still had open steering. Singer had to bring out extra catalogues during the year to accommodate the new variations – the catalogue reproduced below is the 4th edition in 1887.
A particularly interesting feature of 1887 Singer Safeties is the semi-diamond rear end; Singer was one of the first to strengthen their bicycles in this way. Another point is the unique seat post on this model. A year later, Singer followed the lead of Rover and Swift, and the seat post was extended horizontally to the headstock to create a diamond frame bicycle.
1887 SINGER CATALOGUE (4th EDITION)
Compare the Apollo No 2, below – it’s the very basic previous year’s model, i.e. the first pattern of cross frame. As well as open steering, it has a normal cross frame rear end rather than the semi-diamond. The company sold it for £17 as against £18 for the Singer Safety and Apollo Safety, and remarked that ‘…it is not as rigid as either of them, nor is the chain adjustment so good, but it may be relied upon as being better than any other machine of this style.’
The Apollo Safety open diamond frame design influenced American styles. Folks were used to curved tubing because of the Ordinary bicycle, the curves being considered aesthetically pleasing by following the curves of the wheels. It was not until 1890 that straight tubing dominated.
EXTRACTS FROM 1891 SINGER CATALOGUE