The Graphic newspaper’s 1887 feature of an elephant on a velocipede tricycle reflected the popularity of this dynamic new form of juvenile transportation. At first merely considered one more unnecessary toy for rich families to buy their children, by 1887, with the overnight success of the new safety bicycle, it was realised that kids who grew up pedalling would become the next generation of cyclists. Girls were encouraged to ride the more sedate ’tiller and treadle’ tricycles, while boys, who, of course, wished to ride as fast as they could, were set up with velocipede tricycles. The pair of tricycles featured were typical mounts of brother and sister.
c1899 Velocipede Tricycle
20″ Front Wheel
14″ Rear Wheels
36″ long; 22″ wide; 30″ high’ 18″ wide handlebars
There are two interesting features on this velocipede tricycle: one is the way the saddle support curves around and under the backbone. It’s both ascetically pleasing and a practical form of springing. You can see a period photograph below with a similar curved spring.
The other feature even more remarkable for a Victorian tricycle is the original red paint that has survived intact into the 21st century. Even the saddle is original. Only two parts have been replaced: the spokes on the left rear wheel, and one of the handlebar grips.
What sets a quality bicycle apart from the pack is the flourish of its design. The superb curves of the backbone as it sweeps down to the rear wheels reveal this example to be an expensive machine, such style appealing not to the child who will ride it, but the parent who will choose it. Observe, by comparison, the much more utilitarian tricycles in the photographs.