Although we know of at least two Canadian companies who sold high-wheel bicycles in the 1880s — Thomas Fane and Company of Toronto, Ontario, and Semmens, Ghent & Company of Burlington, Ontario — it was during the bicycle boom of the 1890s that bicycle manufacturing became an established industry in Canada. Some makers, like Massey-Harris, Goold and Welland Vale, were already engaged in industrial production. Others, like Gendron, Thomas, and Hyslop, began life as bicycle makers. Many more bought and assembled imported parts from Britain and the United States and sold the bicycles under their own brand name, or adopted the methods of another company under license to make their own product. There were also many Canadian bicycle firms that acted as agents and distributors for popular imported brands.
– Canada Science & Technology Museum
The Canada Cycle & Motor Co Ltd had been Canada’s leading cycle manufacturer and retailer for most of the the twentieth century, with a successful export market in the commonwealth countries. But one thing they lacked was a modern ‘flagship’ model.
By the thirties, design styles had entered the ‘streamlined’ era, and the flowing styles of American streamlined trains, cars and refrigerators had entered the public consciousness. America led the new revolution in aerodynamic styling and, drawing on influences from European art and fashion and the new ‘Art Deco’ style, designers like Raymond Loewy were busy creating icons that were to last for decades to come.
Railway companies could afford the best designers for their new locomotives and American automobile companies were not far behind. Cycle manufacturers wanted a piece of the action too, so major companies hired some of the best stylists and inventors of the day to create new bicycle masterpieces. Schwinn, Elgin, Murray and Monark brought out superb top-of-the-range models that were too expensive for most customers to buy …but were superb exhibition and shop window display models that helped sell their normal ranges of bicycles.
As Canada’s national cycle manufacturer, CCM naturally felt a need to compete with America’s top companies in the ‘superbike’ stakes. Silver King’s 1936 Flocycle appears to have been a major influence on the design of the CCM Flyte. However, the Flyte’s designer Harvey W. Pearce added a further excellent innovation that took the CCM one step further …by adding a curved front fork similar in appearance to the Victor Springfork of the late 1880s. The CCM was not designed as a spring-frame like the Victor, instead it had what was described as a ‘shock-absorbing frame.’ The Flyte’s unique design created the only bicycle in history to feature a curved front fork to mirror its curved rear stays.
As with all the top-of-the-range ‘exhibition’ cycle models, the Flyte was obviously not built with sales figures in mind. It was a design exercise that put CCM into the same league as the top American manufacturers, and so helped boost its overall sales at home and abroad. Despite this, it’s a very functional bicycle that’s easy to ride and it even does the job it claims to have been invented for, ie it provides a smooth ride that absorbs road bumps.
Surprisingly, the CCM Flyte is not very well known 75 years later. Most American enthusiasts have little knowledge or interest in bicycles made outside the USA. (That blinkered view can even preclude anything not over-restored or made by Schwinn). But, despite a general lack of acknowledgement, this bicycle, in my opinion, features one of the most iconic bicycle designs in the entire history of cycling and I am proud to have one in this museum collection.
Canadian Cycle manufacturing History thanks to – http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/collection/cycles12.cfm