Design at its best: the safety bicycle

The period of the safety bicycles might be the most interesting in cycling history. Finally producers realised that a chain driven rear wheel was the best solution to build a bicycle. Since riding a penny farthing was quite dangerous, they called these new cycles ‘safeties’.

The first chain driven safety bicycle that was really succesfull was the Rover in 1884. In the following ten years hundreds of bigger and smaller firms tried to invent something new. This is clearly visible in the magnificent forms bikes had those years. Most factories were really searching for the best bicycle solutions. Of course other makers just copied the best designs – these cheaper models are always the hardest to identify, as they look so similar.

I list as many models (up to 1895, when the bikes lost their sloping top tube and all had pneumatic tyres) as I can find photographs of. I just hope you will find your bike. I didn’t find some of mine yet ...

When I am building this website, december 2011, I see that there are a lot of French safeties, but not many from England. So if you have one, make pictures and send them to me!

If you have questions about identification, feel free to send me an e-mail!

Also: if you want to donate new pictures (or sell old safety bicycles ;-)) , you are welcome to contact me!

The cross frame safety

Diamond frame safety

Safety bicycle development

 Ladies' safeties