Colonel Pope’s ‘Trust’ – a conglomerate of nearly all the American bicycle manufacturers – lasted only two years before it went bust (1902). Colonel Pope bought it. He then had free use of all the bicycle names previously owned by the companies that had been his competitors. ‘Rambler’ had been the top model name of Gormully & Jeffery, his leading competitor and frequent litigant, but now Pope was free to use it on his own line. As well as using the Rambler name for his bicycles he also used it for his newly introduced motorcycles (then known as ‘motor bicycles’ ) and automobiles.
The leading Pope Rambler bicycle was The Chainless ‘Model 451’ at $65.
The Men’s Rambler Chain Cushion Frame Roadster – with a ‘shock absorber’ in the rear fork – was the second, at $50.
There was also an option to add a ‘Hygienic’ Cushion Frame to the Chainless, making it a ‘Model 451C’ and selling at $70. It was a rarer configuration.
1904 Pope Men’s Rambler Chainless ‘Model 451C’ with Hygienic Cushion Frame
Early Pattern Corbin Coaster Brake
This Pope Rambler Chainless Model 451C has the optional cushion frame rear suspension. These two innovative options in one bike, both heavily promoted by Colonel Pope, made it interesting at the time, as well as 111 years later. It also featured a (single speed) Corbin Coaster Brake, recently introduced for both bicycles and motor bicycles, and heavily promoted by Pope.
This rare survivor is in good all-round condition. The wooden wheels are newer than 1904; they are fine for display but would need replacing for regular riding. The saddle top has been replaced, and one handlebar grip is missing.
If I haven’t sold it beforehand, when it arrives in England, I’ll fit a metal wheelset.
CORBIN DUPLEX COASTER BRAKE
The bicycle coaster brake was invented by New Departure (ND Bell Co.) sometime in the 1897-98 period. Early in 1897, the company created the so-called “controller.” This was a device that acted as decelerator and also permitted coasting but was not a true “coaster brake”. In December of 1898 the company, because it didn’t have the machinery, contracted with the P.&F. Corbin Co. of New Britain, Connecticut, to make 5,000 true coaster brakes… the first known order. Each concern was to sell the gadget that “brought the bike back”…. They were marketed under the name of New Departure. In 1899 P.&F. Corbin Co. undertook to make its own brakes (continuing to use the New Departure name until at least 1906), and so in late 1899 New Departure produced the first at its own plant, The New Departure Automatic Coaster.