The crossed tubes of an Elswick patent truss frame, produced by the company from 1892/1893 onwards, were claimed to give greater rigidity to a bicycle. Apparently the direct strain from head to bracket was dealt with more thoroughly and strains from twisting were also combated, creating an infinitely more rigid frame. Whether it improved the bicycle or not, there was a good case for creating unique features in bicycles so they stood out in the crowd and attracted extra attention from the cycling press. Elswick’s ‘twisted’ down tubes becsme their signature feature.
Frame strength was a key issue of the day: frames were getting lighter by the year, and cycle enthusiasts were keen to put new designs through their paces to find their stress points. As well as crossframes, many of the top manufacturers were adding extra tubes to their diamond frame bikes to add ‘psychological’ strength to the machine, ie to make it appeal to riders who felt they needed a stronger frame on their bike: large bikes had two top tubes, Royal Enfield was successful with their ‘Girder’ frames, and Premier used an extra tube in the opposite direction to the Girder. Elswick did also try out the American Iver Johnson patent design, described by them as a truss-tube, but also known as an ‘arch-frame.’
The ‘Popular Truss’ twisted down tube design is featured on both the Gentlemen’s diamond frame machine and Ladies’ loopframe.
1910 Elswick Popular Truss Path Racer
Frame No 10207
This Elswick Popular Truss Path Racer is a very rare survivor. It appears to be one of the last Newcastle machines, and is in good condition apart from splits in its wooden wheel rims. As you can see, it still carries its original tyres. The rear hub is interesting, being threaded on both sides (‘flip-flop’). The sprocket on the other side is also fixed wheel, but is inch pitch. I would speculate that it was used both on the road and track, and with a larger inch pitch chainwheel for racing.
1913 ELSWICK CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
1913 ELSWICK CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
ELSWICK-HOPPER CYCLE & MOTOR CO
The Elswick Cycle Co took over William Newton & Co.in 1891. Elswick is a suburb of Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland, the premises being at Elswick Court, off Northumberland Street. On 4 October 1893 the company was registered as a limited company, with capital of £20,000 in £10 shares, but a month later the works were burned down. In June 1896 a prospectus was published for a new company, Elswick Cycles Co. Ltd. On 9 February 1901 the company was renamed Elswick Cycles & Manufacturing Co. Ltd. The company motto was “Fortiter Defendit Triumphans”. By 1908 the company was in financial difficulty and went into liquidation although it was still advertising from its Newcastle address in 1910 and appears in directories in 1911.
The patents, trademarks and goodwill were purchased from the liquidator by Fred Hopper in 1911, with Henry Wilson and G. H. Nowell, for £100 and began trading as Elswick Cycle & Motor Manufacturing Co. The Elswick-Hopper Cycle & Motor Co. was subsequently formed in May 1913.
1920s LADY’S v GENTLEMAN’S
ELSWICK POPULAR TRUSS LIGHT ROADSTER