1895 New Light Popular Rover (Rover Legere de Route)
(J.K Starley & Co Ltd)
30″ Front Wheel
28 x 1 3/4″ Rear Wheel
Frame No 9042
This amazing ‘barn find’ machine was found in France. It has a 1905 ‘plaque fiscale’ showing the name of Emile Imbert, which suggests it has been in France for at least the past 110 years. Starley’s Paris depot was at 52 rue de Dunkerque. The French catalogue described this model as the ‘Rover Legere de Route’ with advice that the rider may remove the brake and mudguards, saving around 1lb in weight, and use the bicycle for road racing.*
There’s still some work to do on the Rover. The 28 x 1 3/4″ rear tyre is not a common size, but I had a Russian 47-622 tyre in stock so that did the trick. The front tyre is more problematic. 30″ pneumatic tyres do not exist. So I’ll have to create a tyre to fit out of two 26″ Green tyres. Meanwhile, I’ve fitted a newer 28″ wheel so I can ride it. The 30″ front wheel is a French Westwood (see photo detail below). I’ll update this page after it has been rebuilt and refitted.
The Rover model range changed in 1895: like other leading manufacturers, in 1895 the company introduced Brooks new patent seat post, which was wider diameter than before. The wheels are 30″ front and 28″ rear, exaggerating the top tube’s upward slant.
From the catalogue details (in the Rover book), I can see that this is an 1895 model rather than 1896, because the upward slant of the 1896 model was slightly less pronounced. Also, whereas the 1895 tyre size is quoted as 1 3/4″ (as on this example), the 1896 tyre size was 1 5/8″.
As the frame number of this machine is 9042, and the 1895 Ladies Rover is 15139, I suspect that the French Rovers had a different numbering sequence.
UNDERNEATH THE BOTTOM BRACKET
* From the book ‘A History of Rover Cycles’ page 83.