Quadrant semi-diamond, ca. 1891

The Quadrant Tricycle Co. (later: Quadrant Cycle Co.) from Birmingham built bicycles and tricycles from ca. 1884 onwards. It was a very innovative firm, they had an early safety with a very strange steering system. The bike we see here seems to have been their second model safety.

This magnificent Quadrant is shown in the Batavus museum in Heerenveen (Netherlands). The museum tells us it is from 1888, but I found it in an 1891 catalogue with this rear brake, so I guess 1891 would be a better guess. I read in several books that this semi-diamond frame of Quadrant was already for sale in 1889, they called it the No. 17. Those earlier models have the more usual type of front wheel brake. But the semi-diamond frame and the ball head were really very modern for that year.

The saddle suspension is a bit different from the saddles Quadrant showed in theitr catalogues, but it may be original and it looks fantastic. Early hard tire safeties often had such suspension systems, since the smaller wheels gave only little comfort on the bumpy roads of the 19th. century. I have a very bumpy road in front of my house in the 21th. century and I can tell you from my own experience that a penny farthing with its giant front wheel gives much better comfort than a safety bicycle. That’s why people invented saddles like this, which were popular until the pneumatic tire was generally adopted.