1891 Rudge Bicyclette Diamant ‘Modele H’

 

1890 Rudge Bicyclette Diamante 01

Following on from its cross frame model (above), Rudge’s duplex diamond frame (with open bottom bracket) was a state-of-the-art machine featuring new technology such as ball bearing sprung steering head and rear chain-adjusters.

Though they were market leaders in the late 1880s, after George Woodcock died in May 1891, Rudge did not update its models as fast as its competitors, and sales suffered. The company was rescued by the Whitworth Cycle Co in 1894, to form Rudge-Whitworth Ltd.

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1891 Rudge Bicyclette Diamant

‘Modele H’ with Duplex Frame and Open Bottom Bracket

21″ Frame

30″ Wheels

Frame No 83835

(Now sold)

 

My friend Ray bought this bicycle in an auction in 1990. He has ridden it hundreds of miles since. It was only after some years of riding it that he noticed a frame number on the top of the handlebar. When he rubbed down that area to reveal the number, he also discovered the company name stamped next to it – THE RUDGE.

A few years ago, Ray researched and wrote the excellent book on the history of Ivel bicycles; there are only a handful of survivors from that marque, and I happened to own one. I felt The Ivel would be better in Ray’s collection, so we recently negotiated the terms of a trade, and now I have no Ivel, but I do have this rare early Rudge to ride.

This Rudge is interesting to compare with my Rudge Diamond ‘No 2’, which has a similar frame design but, being an earlier model, has a slightly different bottom bracket and also an open steering head.

The integral ball-bearing steering on this ‘Bicyclette Modele H’ was a major new innovation at the time, with external springs at both the top and bottom of the steering head.

Apart from the usual servicing, Ray has kept The Rudge just as it was purchased in 1990, with the exception of a new saddle top. The saddle itself is an American item with a wonderfully ornate clamp. The Rudge has no mudguards, which is normal with bicycles of this era. As I found myself when I took it for a ride, it’s much easier when you need to dismount and push it up hills if it’s as light as possible. Ray rode The Rudge on the recent Benson Veteran Cycle Ride (his last ride on it); he’s an experienced long-distance veteran bicycle rider and I found it hard to keep up with him (I was riding my 1896 Raleigh). I did notice that Ray didn’t need to dismount on hills!

 

 

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1892 RUDGE CATALOGUE (FRENCH)

 

 

 

 

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1892 RUDGE CATALOGUE (FRENCH)

 

 

 

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COMPARISON with 1890 RUDGE BICYCLETTE DIAMANT NO 2

ABOVE: 1890 RUDGE

BELOW: 1891 RUDGE

 

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ABOVE: 1890 RUDGE

BELOW: 1891 RUDGE

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