The advertising industry was born in the 1890s with the advent of cheaper publishing methods and the boom in bicycle production. The top cycle manufacturers – in particular Colonel Alexander Pope, who made America’s leading Columbia brand – paved the way for automobile industry that followed. Eventually, manufacturers realized that an excellent way to create brand loyalty was to enter the market for children’s bicycles and tricycles. Revenues from the sale of kid’s bikes may not have been as high as from adult vehicles, but introducing children to their brands from an early age was a subtle – and successful – means of advertising. Tyre companies recognized this and, after WW2, Firestone were one of several companies to add their name to the manufacture of this innovative, unusual and unique children’s V-belt sidewalk bicycle.
1946 Bi-Cycle Children’s Bike
An offshoot of V-belt technology, which had advanced greatly during World War 2, was the creation of this unique children’s sidewalk bicycle. Three versions are known, although cycle historians are unsure of the actual companies that made them. As the NBHAA reports:
The marketing of these wheelgoods is highly complicated due to wholesale-distributor companies that put their names on it and made the actual sources of manufacture difficult to uncover. It continues to remain a mystery as to which actual company made these V-belt drive bicycles. The reason is because of the various wholesale-distribution companies that put their own names on these bicycles. We suspect the main source was related to a children’s wheel goods company that was well known, but did not market these belt drives under their own name.
There were at least three different versions of V-belt drive children’s sidewalk bicycles. These all appear to have been made between the late 1940s and mid-1950s. All seem to use the same pedals, same handlebars, same neck collar with bolt, same cranks, same fork LEGS (neck of fork length varied).
Two larger sizes used slightly bigger wheels supplied by Allied Wheel Company and BMC. The smaller size used slightly smaller diameter wheels, but compensated this by using a larger front pulley.
The early versions came in two sizes and had adjustable tensions on the rear wheel/pulley. The largest of these was marketed under the name of ‘Danny Boy’ via at least two companies (one in the Chicago, Illinois area and another in Toronto, Canada).
The third version (which we call the ‘W’ frame) had no tension adjustments due to the design of the frame and was more prolific. It was sold by a company located in Pasadena, California.
We believe that at one point, all came from the same manufacturer or at least the same engineering–regardless of brand name applied.