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Women's Early 20th Century Double-Chain Bicycle

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Bicycle Museum of America

Look Ma, No Hands!
Good morning/afternoon/evening!

A patron brought in an interesting machine to the museum this morning. It seems to be an early 20th century bicycle, but it appears to have double chainrings. While I know that the derailleur was invented in the early 20th century, it wasn't widespread until much later.

Has anyone ever encountered something like this before? What was the purpose of the second chainring? Would it have required manually changing gears?

PXL_20220224_171932796.jpg


PXL_20220224_171918445.jpg


PXL_20220224_171912332.jpg
 

locomotion

Cruisin' on my 1897 Comet
Good morning/afternoon/evening!

A patron brought in an interesting machine to the museum this morning. It seems to be an early 20th century bicycle, but it appears to have double chainrings. While I know that the derailleur was invented in the early 20th century, it wasn't widespread until much later.

Has anyone ever encountered something like this before? What was the purpose of the second chainring? Would it have required manually changing gears?

View attachment 1576642

View attachment 1576643

View attachment 1576644
the outer sprocket was definitely added at a later time, it's not as old as the bike
could probably be because they could not find a proper chain to work with the original sprocket
they probably left the old sprocket on because they didn't know how to attach the "new" sprocket
they just drilled 3 screws right through it

original sprocket looks similar to a Victor
 
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Andrew Gorman

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Seems like an upgrade- someone wanted to use the bike but did not like the original fixed hub and stump puller gear ratio. Swap in a coaster hub and taller gearing and you are "updated". Just speculation, but it makes a certain kind of sense to me.
 

locomotion

Cruisin' on my 1897 Comet
Could be a mid 1890's Victoria
how are the badge holes?
north-south (2 holes) or diagonal (4 holes)?
 

dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Just a suggestion, but the. bicycle might not be of US origin at all.
I believe it may be of French origin; rear dropouts and cottered cranks also suggest European design to me.
It's a strange design, bottom bracket looks very 1890's while the frame geometry looks from around the TOC.
Several French companies and inventors used double chainring systems that used double chains at the same time, with special rear hubs with clutches to operate either one of two rear sprockets.
The most well known was the 'Systeme L. Badois' that Peugeot used for a brief period in the early 1900's.....
Screenshot_20220224-185532_Chrome.jpg




...this reminds me of an earlier journey down that particular "cul de sac" of design.
 

dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
For those wondering how the above system worked it relied on two sprung weights situated diametrically opposite each other on the rear rim, which were attached to the rear hub via a wire linkage; think of something like a heavy gauge spoke material.
Both chains ran simultaneously and when a certain velocity was reached the weights would move outwards radially and operate the clutch in the rear hub. This would engage the sprocket and chain connected to the larger chain ring giving a higher gear; crazy!
You can just make out the weights on the illustration above.
 

dnc1

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
I would be curious to know the rear dropout spacing and if it would be wide enough to accommodate two sprockets also?
 
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