During WW1, all the major combatants deployed bicycles. It’s not possible to know exactly how many military cyclists there were, but it’s estimated that at least 100,000 British soldiers used bicycles in some capacity and at least 150,000 French and Belgians. A bicycle was an ideal means of transportation as it was comparatively lightweight – it could be carried over obstructions – and as well as being ridden could be loaded with equipment and pushed. It was particularly well-suited for conveying despatches, guerrilla action, patrols and reconnaissance …a motorcycle was faster, but a bicycle was silent.
WW1 Style Military Roadster with Territorial Fittings
Many different manufacturers supplied bicycle for military use during the Great War. Some territorial cyclist battalions placed bulk orders with individual manufacturers; in others, cyclists supplied their own bicycles.
As well as the standard military models, officers also placed individual orders with a company if they wished for extra specifications above the standard issue. Hire purchase was available for officers upon enlistment. This roadster with War Office 2nd Pattern style rifle clips and Territorial fittings is an example of a typical Cyclist Battalion machine. It is seen here on coast patrol at Seaford, East Sussex,
The bicycle is cosmetically unrestored. The paintwork is faded and the maker is unknown, though it appears to have some BSA fittings. It’s a style that was used during the Great War. It’s fitted with BSA handlebar grips, BSA pattern pedals, frame-mounted tool bag and rear carrier rack and is ready to display, to use for WW1 commemorations, and for regular riding. I’ll fit an inflator pump with clips to the top tube, as illustrated in the catalogue, before I ship it to its new owner.
SEAFORD MARTELLO TOWER
The location for these photos is next to Seaford’s Martello Tower, which is located at the eastern end of Seaford seafront.
The tower is no.74 of an original 103 small defensive forts built in the 19th century across the British Empire during the French Revolutionary Wars, and now houses the town’s museum.