England swings like a pendulum do
Bobbies on bicycles, two by two
Westminster Abbey the tower of Big Ben
The rosy red cheeks of the little children
– Roger Miller, ‘England Swings’ 1965
From the earliest days of its development, policemen realised that the bicycle enabled them to pursue crooks at a faster speed. ‘Bobbies’ patrolling on bicycles was once a regular feature of English life. In those days, policemen were tall; the minimum height required for the job was 5′ 10″. As a result, they required tall-framed bicycles, and many 26″ and 28″ heavy duty roadsters were supplied to police forces or purchased by individual constables.
1933 BSA Heavy Duty Roadster
Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed hub
35″ Standover Height (top tube to ground)
Middlemore 3-Coil Saddle
Inflator pump, front lamp, rear carrier, bell
…As used by the Police Force
The Double Top Tube Roadster appeared in BSA’s 1914 and 1917 catalogues, as a ‘Heavy Roadster’ created for heavyweight riders:
‘This model is specially designed and strongly constructed for the cyclist of more than average weight …it is built with double top tube, which gives exceptional strength, and the fittings throughout are proportionally strengthened. The equipment is of first-class quality, and the general appearance of the machine bears the stamp of BSA thoroughness. The heaviest rider can use this machine with perfect confidence.’
It does not appear in general BSA catalogues after 1917, as it was not a model that was held in stock, but was built to a customer’s special order.
By the 1930s, old-style roadsters were giving way to lightweight machines. The style of this double top tube machine remained the same as twenty years before, but it was now built from lighter weight steel, because the need was now for a tall frame rather than a heavyweight machine as before.
This example is in good order.
Police bicycles had no special markings. A rear carrier was usually fitted, and often a saddlebag for the officer to stow his cape.
1917 BSA CATALOGUE
1931 BSA CATALOGUE