I think their go-lightly pitch means Imperials ride more comfortably than other wheels. I love the guy’s bike-spectacles!
How’s this for an idyllic cycling scene? Not a car in sight (How many cars were around at this early date, anyway?), beautiful neighborhood, even a friend to show off your new bikes to. Notice the HD chain ring, and toolbox under the seat. Don’t you think these fellows are a little overdressed to be out cycling? Check out those ties!
I like this ad because it promotes healthy ways to see the countryside and suggests combining waking and cycling with public transportation (the railway). Even today, that’s a great way to get around. Plus, it’s a fine way to reduce traffic on the roads and increase civility among road users.
O, YOUNG LOCHINVAR is come out of the west, Through all the wide Border his steed was the best; And save his good broadsword he weapons had none, He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone. So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war, There never was a knight like the young Lochinvar.
I didn’t realize Hercules was such a major brand until I saw this ad. Look how effortlessly these well-dressed riders crest the hill. It must be their Hercules cycles. Notice that they’re heading south on the map of England, the proper direction for a holiday. And isn’t the perspective wonderful!
These bicycles have evolved significantly since 1937, yet do you think we’re having any more fun than this couple? They’re spinning along on their one-speeds without a care in the world. And, what splendid one-speeds: British-steel frames, full fenders, saddle bags, lamp brackets, even wingnuts on the wheels for no-tool flat repair.
In the 50s and 60s, the bike of choice came to be known as the English racer. Oddly enough, models from different makers were almost identical. So to distinguish their marks, British makers attached romantic and historic themes to their bikes. This is the cover of a Norman Cycles catalog intended to make you believe that every ride on a Norman bicycle would be a unique adventure.
If this is what Lake Shore Drive looked like in 1925, it has sure change. I like the family with father and daughter riding together and the son out front on his Mead Ranger Moto-Bike. Check out the two hot shots about to pass with their super-dropped handlebars and matching warm-ups.
One of Langley’s favorite ads.
What attracts me to early (from the 1880s to the 1940s) print bicycle advertising is the way the artists and copywriters romanticized bicycling,” wrote self-proclaimed “bicycle fanatic” Jim Langley, a writer, teacher, inventor, and collector living in Santa Cruz, CA.
These interesting artifacts from bicycling’s past can often be found in old magazines and newspapers and provide a glimpse at the early excitement and fervor with which the bicycle was received.
“Bicycles have always meant freedom, escape, and adventure,” said Langley.
“Before we had modern conveniences like automobiles, electricity, and air conditioning, all you needed was any bike and you could travel farther than you might have ever traveled in your life. You could see things brand new to you. You could meet new people, maybe strike up a romance, learn new things, in short, open whole new worlds that had been completely out of reach by foot or even on a horse.”
While Langley has a few favorites in his collection, there is one, a 1901 Columbia ad, that really connects him to his own early experiences on a bike. “If you leave Concord, NH, bicycling due north toward Canada, passing through Colebrook, you’ll come to a remarkable downhill that resembles the one in this ad,” said Langley. “In 1969, my high-school chum Bruce Holden and I flew down this hill at sixty miles per hour. I’ll never forget it, which is why this ad is among my favorites. Bruce went first, screaming with joy. I followed, my eyes filling with tears from the wind. We picked up so much speed that we coasted for eight miles into a tiny town. We stopped and bought a bowl of pommes frites. They were delicious. Then we turned around and headed home, pedaling every inch up the hill that had been so easy in the other direction. Fortunately, and unlike the fellow in this ad, Bruce and I could shift into low gears.”
The ads shown above, with captions provided by Langley, make up a small part of the passionate collector’s series of restored ads.