I came across the following advertisement in THE GRAPHIC newspaper whilst I was researching another article and my eyes were drawn to the remarks made by Mr F.W. Smith writing from "the Hawthorns, Walkley Sheffield March 15th 1897"

"Riding a bamboo is indeed a pleasure which to the riders of steel machines is unknown"

For anyone who knows Walkley and its steep hills, the thought of riding a bamboo bicycle is not a pleasant prospect especially when the streets were mainly cobbled! Although come to think of it the streets then would probably be in better condition than they are now.

By way of background the Bamboo Cycle website notes

"Starting with English patent No.8274 of 26 April 1894, the first bamboo bicycles were shown at the London Stanley Show of 1894 and caused a sensation. With a London showroom at 59 Holborn Viaduct, and manufacturing works in Petit Street, off Pountney Street, Wolverhampton. The company also had premises in Thomas Street. They produced a large range of machines; road racers, roadsters, ladies safeties and youths’ bicycles. For instance the 1897 company catalogue listed a 'Special Racer' that weighed only 25lbs. This was presumably due to the bamboo frame".

On a more general note, it appears that they never really caught on and were squeezes out by steel framed cycles - (Wikipedia)

"Their machines initially had frames made of bamboo because it was very strong, lightweight and free from corrosion. In practice steel proved to be a much better material for the purpose and so only a few real bamboo bikes were made. The later models were made of steel that was disguised to look like bamboo. The bicycles were fitted with the patent 'Doolittle' back pedalling brake and an automatically adjustable handlebar. The machines were only in production for a few years and it is thought that only small numbers were made.

A Bamboo cycle on display at the National Cycle Collection at Llandrindod Wells"


The Graphic 1897

Bamboo Cycle


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