Here's something Neat- A Ramshackle High Wheeler- 1880 Otto Model 4 High Wheel Bicycle

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The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
..........................Hello everybody, hope you are doing well! I got a pretty awesome find a couple of weeks ago, and I have been wanting to share it with yall. If you live in the Carolinas or Virginia, you may have even seen it for sale on our local Craigslist. This is a circa 1880-81 Otto Model 4 High Wheel Bicycle, built by the Western Toy Company of Chicago, Illinois, more famously known in later years as Western Wheel Works. At first, the seller and I were unsure of exactly what it was, but after some research online browsing the limited information published about these bikes, I think I have identified it. This bicycle is actually not from Chapel Hill, NC where I bought it, but spent its previous 40 or more years in the town of Old Snow Mass, Colorado, adorning the top of a handrail balustrade in a home, covered in tropical vines. I bought it from that person's nephew, who was entrusted with liquidating his estate, and that is how the bike made it here to the East Coast. So who knows where it was before then, but if it was local to that area, then I reckon it lain witness to the Wild West...........maybe :) . Oddly enough it seems that most of the Otto bicycles I have seen have turned up out west, and about every other year one comes up for sale at Copake auction. The last one I saw was on ebay in Montana, but it did not ultimately sell.

...........................I believe this is an 1880-81 machine, because it has a number of later features not seen on those built in the 1870s, such as a lever operated brake, instead of twist grip, and a front fork forged of one piece of wrought iron, as opposed to several sections joined together as seen on 1870s Otto's. It also has a later style head adjuster screw. I believe it is not later than about 1881, because supposedly it was in that year that the "New Otto" and "Rival" bikes, which were equipped with wire spoke wheels, came into production, and the original Otto line was discontinued. This is one of the relatively few models of high wheel bikes that was designed with old style wooden wagon wheels. It is likely a model 4, because it should have a 42 inch front wheel, which according to an advertising pamphlet, is "adapted for youths of 15 to 20 years", and more specifically, people with an inseam of 30 inches. So being an average sized fellow or even a shorty, that suits me pretty well! I have also found that a good number of Otto's that have turned up, are rarely if ever over 42 inch wheel diameter, which I can only guess is because an average person in those days might have about a 30 inch or so inseam, since supposedly the average person was shorter then than now, but who knows. Otto also largely catered to the youth bicycle market.

..........................This bicycle as you can see is pretty ramshackled, and needs a lot of fabrication work which I hope to do sometime in the coming years, to get it rideable. It will also need some proper wheels built, and I am thinking of having this done by Custom Wagon Wheels Company. If you have any advise, comments, or literature on this please feel free to post it here, and any information is greatly appreciated. Although I can fabricate everything this bikes needs (except the wheels) if you have any recommendations for some people who make parts for a machine like this, such as bronze bushings to name one, let me know. Thank you for reading, and have a nice evening!

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Here is an original advertising leaflet from the Sterba-Bike Website.

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OldSkipTooth

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Nice find, one of the few authentic 19th C. Machines to hit the Cabe. In the last few years there have been many blacksmith made bikes found, but yours is a notch above. The wood for the wheels, while not easy, looks straight forward as most of the wood is present for replication, I’m assuming the wood is punky and won’t be rideable? Good luck!
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nice find, one of the few authentic 19th C. Machines to hit the Cabe. In the last few years there have been many blacksmith made bikes found, but yours is a notch above. The wood for the wheels, while not easy, looks straight forward as most of the wood is present for replication, I’m assuming the wood is punky and won’t be rideable? Good luck!
Hello! Thank you for your comment. Actually, the reason I have to have new wheels built is because the wheels it has on currently, are not the originals. The cranks are also some sort of makeshift cranks. I believe the wheels were put on decades ago just to make the machine presentable. and whoever initially found this bike, found it as just a disembodied frame, with the original wheels long lost. The front wheel it has now, is a 38 inch actual wagon wheel, and the rear appears to be from a baby carriage. But once I get some proper wheels built, this thing will be a swell ride>
 
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MEW1359

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nice old ride! I’m curious about the Western Toy Company (Chicago, Illinois), and the “Rival” brand. I can’t seem to find much info on it. The only mention I’ve seen is in Donald Adams book “Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles. I recently purchased what they said was a Rival ordinary 1889-90 in the Copake bike auction. I’m just interested in obtaining any information I can find





about my Rival bike and on the company etc… Thanks.
 

The Carolina Rambler

Finally riding a big boys bike
Nice old ride! I’m curious about the Western Toy Company (Chicago, Illinois), and the “Rival” brand. I can’t seem to find much info on it. The only mention I’ve seen is in Donald Adams book “Collecting and Restoring Antique Bicycles. I recently purchased what they said was a Rival ordinary 1889-90 in the Copake bike auction. I’m just interested in obtaining any information I can find





about my Rival bike and on the company etc… Thanks.
Oh wow, your Rival bike is awesome! That looks like a top notch restoration. Like I mentioned in the post, it seems that about every other year or so, a Western Toy Company built machine comes up for sale there at Copake oddly enough. Below is a link to a website that had some literature and photos regarding the Rival bicycle:


and here is an advertising leaflet that is posted on the above website:

dere+landen%2FNew+Otto+Special%2Frival-catalogue-2.jpg

Thank you!
 
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