In 1911, Marcel Planes won Cycling magazine’s century competition, notching up a grand total of 34,666 miles. His mileage was officially verified by Cycling magazine using checking cards. His bicycle was a ‘Mead Flyer’ and this accomplishment put Mead Cycle Co firmly on the map in Britain.
The British company started in 1887. Their head office (in 1907) was at 35-39 Wapping, Liverpool, and was mostly a mail order business. The company ran until 1930 when all the assets of the Mead Cycle Co. were acquired by Curry’s Ltd.
The American company started as ‘Mead & Prentiss Manufacturing’, offering models inclusing the ‘Chicago’, ‘Monitor’ and ‘Putnam’ in their 1897 catalogue, and subsequently becoming Mead Cycle Co. The two Mead companies on opposite sides of the Atlantic, were independent of each other, but had a working relationship. As the US cycle industry went into recession in the late 1890s, exports became more important to American cycle companies, and American Mead bicycles were sold in Europe. This one was found in Ireland.
1900 Mead ‘Kennebec’ Road Racer
Frame No G2842
With the wide diameter tubing and early style chainwheel this would appear to be one of the first bicycles badged by ‘Mead Cycle Co’ of Chicago, after its name changed from ‘Mead & Prentiss Manufacturing’. Though Mead Cycle Co in Britain is well documented, I’ve not yet managed to find any catalogue illustrations or advertisements for an American Mead this early.
It looks like it originally had a nickelled frame. It has recently been serviced and fitted with a retro coaster metal wheel set. It’s a sturdy but lightweight machine and it rides well.