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A Rudge-Whitworth tricycle was not only one of the most prestigious machines to own in the early years of the twentieth century, it was also one of the most practical.
Rudge-Whitworth were pioneers in the field of lightweight machines, with their Lady’s models being the lightest on the market.
This large Gentlemen’s tricycle was of the type favoured by royalty.
Whereas the Beeston Humber Gent’s Tricycle was the top heavyweight model used by the Royal Families, the Rudge-Whitworth was the lightest.
1906 ‘No 30 Special’ Rudge-Whitworth Light Roadster Tricycle
with Starley 1892 Patent Rear Axle
Early 1900s Gentlemen’s Tricycles are now rare beasts; most tricycles sold at this time were used by women and older folks, so were of the loop-frame variety.
But machines of this calibre were favoured by the middle-aged aristocracy, who still followed the traditions of the 1800s.
They were expensive to buy but retained their value well. Their style changed little from year to year, and this model was current between 1904 and 1910.
This fabulous Light Roadster Tricycle was discovered in a barn on a farm in Wales, having been dry-stored since before WW2. We have recently completed a sympathetic restoration. The wheels were rebuilt, and fitted with cream Schwalbe 28 x 1 1/2″ tyres.
It’s ready to ride.
To mount a large Gentlemen’s tricycle, you step onto the rear axle with your left foot. As your body starts to move onto the saddle, and before your right foot reaches the pedal, you grip the front brake with your right hand.
The famous Starley axle on this Light Roadster Tricycle – patented by James Starley in 1877 – has a differential, with only one rear wheel driven. When you are riding at speed, you compensate for this when turning.
The technology invented for early tricycles led directly to the development of the automobile and, while riding this imposing machine among other cyclists, you certainly feel like you are riding the bicycle equivalent of a large vintage car.
1904 was a changeover year for Rudge-Whitworth cycle chainwheels.
Some 1904 models used the earlier ‘claw crank’ while this Rudge-Whitworth has the newer style, described in the catalogue (below) as an ‘armless crank’ which continued to be used until 1910, at which time the famous ‘hand’ chainwheel was introduced (and continued until Rudge-Whitworth cycle production ceased).
1904 RUDGE-WHITWORTH CATALOGUE
STARLEY’S 1892 PATENT REAR AXLE
The first axle was patented by James Starley, in 1877 for his ‘Royal Salvo Tricycle’.
His son, William, improved on this in 1892, and it is this differential that is used in the Abingdon axle.
There would be a small brass badge on the diff housing that states ‘Starley’s Patent No 7752 1892‘.
Later axles have the brass badge, but it just boldly states ‘Abingdon.’
1902 RUDGE-WHITWORTH CATALOGUE