The tricycle market was very competitive during the ‘tricycle heyday’ of the 1880s and early 90s. While athletic tall gentlemen could ride an ordinary (penny farthing), the tricycle market catered for women and older gentlemen, as well as heavier riders. Quadrant’s 1901 catalogue points out that its ‘strength is ample for a heavy rider.’ By the end of the century, tricycles were the most refined vehicles on the road, and favoured by professionals such as doctors, particularly in rural areas, who would use one to do their rounds. The example featured here has a rear luggage rack with a leather doctor’s bag mounted on it.
Healthy sales in the tricycle market directly inspired advances in their design, which in turn led to the development of the safety bicycle. With the advent of chain-driven machines, tricycles were much cheaper to produce, which widened their appeal, though they were still much more expensive than bicycles.
Founded in 1883, the Quadrant Cycle Co was renowned for the quality of their workmanship and was one of the world’s leading manufacturer of tricycles. They introduced many patents for new innovations. Their Model 8B ‘Convertible’ Tricycle was converted from a Gent’s to a Lady’s tricycle by the removal of the top tube. A Gentleman would mount the machine from the rear -observe the two ‘steps’ over the rear axle to protect its paintwork – while a lady would mount from the side.
This model of tricycle was introduced in 1894 and at that time was the company’s most expensive machine. By 1901 the price was £25, and the band brake, as fitted to the example here, cost an extra 12/- 6d. Quadrant’s top-of-the-range 1901 two-wheeler was a Chainless Light Roadster which cost £19 10/-. The Beeston Humber Convertible Tricycle was Quadrant’s main competitor, but that machine was priced at £32.
1899 Quadrant Convertible Tricycle with Band Brake
1894 Pattern Model No 8B
28″ Front Wheel
26″ Rear Wheels
This rare Victorian tricycle is in good condition, having been restored with green paintwork and new nickel around 10 years ago. It’s ready to ride.
This is a convertible model: the top tube is removable, being bolted at the top of the seat tube and the head. The chainwheel is bolted directly to the lower tube to provide chain tension adjustment. The band brake is a work of art.
The 1894 illustration, above, has no band brake; this Quadrant innovation was first fitted to their tricycles around 1897.
1894 PATTERN QUADRANT TRICYCLE
1901 QUADRANT CATALOGUE
QUADRANT BAND BRAKE & LINKAGE FROM A VARIETY OF ANGLES
PHOTO LOCATION: LEWES CASTLE