Although pneumatic tyres were available for bicycles when this machine was made, they were an expensive option, and many customers chose cushion tyres instead. Although they were heavier than pneumatics, they obviously did not suffer from punctures, so were more suitable for riding on roads with a poor surface.
There are no valve holes in the wheel rims of this bicycle, so presumably the rims were made for cushion tyres. The catalogue entry for the ‘Mayflower’ states that the basic price of the bicycle with solid tyres was 13 guineas; with cushion tyres £15; fitted with Clincher or Boothroyd pneumatic tyres it was £17 10/- and with Dunlop pneumatics £18.
This example, with 30 inch wheels, is fitted with American Harper cushion tyres.
1892 Cushion Tyre Safety
attributed to The Liverpool & Midland Cycle Co, Mayflower ‘Model D’
I bought this beautiful cushion tyre safety bicycle from the renowned Farren Collection in Australia. It featured in their book, on page 94. The machine is an older restoration, still in excellent condition and, until my purchase, was on display at the Shepparton Motor Museum in Australia.
Paul Farren failed to identify its maker. I have an extensive database covering bicycles of this era, but even this is no guarantee of a successful identification. Model specifications changed frequently in the early 1890s, and the bicycle that the customer received was not necessarily the same as that illustrated.
For example, the catalogue illustrates straight front forks, which was several years out of date; whereas the machine has curved forks, in keeping with the diamond frame design in this year of manufacture.
Its open head steering was also obsolete by 1892: the company was obviously selling models from previous years. If you scroll down to examine the catalogue, you can see they also listed a crossframe safety (‘Model E’), an even older model. This company was a regional supplier so, as well as stocking the latest designs at higher prices, there was also a market for cheaper models with outdated parts. The company may have made the model a few years earlier, bought in the parts separately to assemble themselves, or purchased the complete bicycle from another well-known manufacturer who dumped their old stock to focus on the latest designs. By 1892, the latest fashion was for a bicycle with an upward sloping top tube (see the Model A and Model B in the catalogue). The chainwheel is also different, maybe replaced, though all the other parts fit the catalogue illustration. As there is no conclusive proof that this is its maker, I’ve described it as ‘attributed to’ The Liverpool & Midland Cycle Co, who were the makers of the Mayflower ‘Model D’.
The Mayflower is in excellent order throughout and ready to ride.