c1900 Warwick Giraffe


c1900 Warwick Giraffe Youth’s Bicycle

Front wheel 26″

Rear Wheel 24″


This is an odd machine. Giraffes bicycles are strange creatures anyway, being a small and lightweight frame with bottom bracket mounted much higher than was usual practice. This one is odder in that it was presumably made some years after the original. So far, I only have the age of the Sturmey Archer hub to go on (1912-1914), though it’s likely that the gears were a later addition and that this machine was manufactured around 1900. The cottered bottom bracket looks like it’s from that period, and the handlebars look slightly earlier. The rear wheel is 24″ and the front is 26″ which combination provides a horizontal crossframe. As can be seen by comparing the original Giraffe with this machine, the first version created a considerably taller bicycle. This is most likely a youth’s bike.

I originally thought the transfer on the headstock would be easy to decipher. The letters ‘WICK’ stand out, so I assumed it to be an Elswick. However, the Elswick marque enthusiast Nigel reported that it’s not an Elswick transfer. Nigel suggested it might be a Warwick. The bicycle was found in New York, so that’s a possibility. And, as you can see from the picture below, Warwick adverts do have some similarity in design. I asked folks in America if they knew anything further, but they didn’t.



Then, by a remarkable coincidence, a Warwick bicycle head badge came onto ebay…



I bought the badge. More recently, I found a photo of an early 1900s cycle shop showing the name ‘The Warwick’




The Giraffe has now been dispatched to my friend Tony, who will restore it mechanically. The paintwork is original, so that will remain untouched. We also decided to raise the handlebars to their maximum height. I’ll update the photos and description in a few weeks when I collect it …and ride it.



1894 GIRAFFE: Made by J.K. Starley & Co Ltd

There’s only a little information about these rare machines:

Ray Miller’s Encyclopaedia explains that ‘The ‘Giraffe’ safety was made in 1893 and also produced under licence by New Howe Co. Ltd, J. K. Starley & Co., D. Rudge & Co. as did the John P. Lovell Arms Co. in the USA.’ Bartleet’s Bicycle Book (our bible!) has a bit more to say on the subject:

Giraffe bicycle invented by S. McCormack, 4 Palmerston Rd, Dublin (now of Belfast) in 1893; made by J.K. Starley & Co Ltd, Coventry. Weight 35lbs.

The first Giraffe was built by Messrs Humber & Co Ltd, Beeston, and exhibited by them on stand 155 at the Stanley Show, November 1893. In the show catalogue appeared an advertisement, inserted by Mr. McCormack, the inventor, inviting manufacturers to take up his machine. Later it was made, under license, by J.K. Starley & Co Ltd and the Rudge Cycle Co Ltd, but owing to other firms building similar machines without paying royalties to the inventor, these two Coventry manufacturers ceased to market Giraffes.

The 1896 book Bicycles and Tricycles (Archibald Sharp) also has an excerpt on the Giraffe, illustrating the New Howe version:



Frame number ’02’ – located on the nearside rear dropout – would suggest a prototype. There is no other frame number to be found on the machine.




This hub is from 1912-1914.