DESIGNS: CONVERTIBLE SAFETY BICYCLES & TRICYCLES

The first ladies’ bicycles are what we now describe as single tube machines, similar to a loopframe but with an unsupported down tube. The female market was initially hypothetical. So, rather than build bicycles exclusively for women, some companies hedged their bets and made the type of bicycle you see here …a ‘Convertible’. It was a man’s machine, but with the top tube unbolted a woman could ride it in her skirt.

Within just a few years women had wholeheartedly embraced the new hobby and companies started building bicycles designed only for women. The ‘Convertible’ soon became a passing phase, a transitional model within the evolution of bicycles that was out of date almost before it was put onto the market. The main reason for its obsolescence is that it was not really suitable for female riders because machines of this time were still heavy and had 30″ wheels. When, by 1891, bicycles were designed exclusively for women, they weighed less and were also built to accept smaller wheels.

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Items in this Collection

1890 Hillman Herbert & Cooper ‘The Premier’ Convertible

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1890 Union Cycle Mfg Co ‘Convertible’ Safety

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1895 Goldsworthy Juvenile Convertible

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1899 Quadrant Convertible Tricycle with Band Brake

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1899 Quadrant Convertible Tricycle with Band Brake

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1901 Beeston Humber Convertible Tricycle (Cordner 3-speed & Band Brake)

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1924 James Tricycle Model 25 Convertible

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