Ordinary bicycle:Columbia Light Roadster

Pope Manufacturing Co.1888

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

First introduced to the United States at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, bicycles like this 1888 Columbia Light Roadster took the country by storm by the 1880s. Inspired by what he saw at the exposition, Albert Pope became the first American to manufacturer bicycles when he set up his shop the following year. Moving to a sewing machine factory in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1878, the Pope Manufacturing Company's line of Columbia bicycles became the most popular and reliable in the country. At the time, bicycles were expensive: Pope's first version cost over $300, and mass production brought the price down only to about $125 - roughly six months' salary for the average American worker. Earlier bicycles had smaller wheels but were relatively slow. Since bigger wheels made faster bicycles, "ordinary" bicycles featured large front wheels that were often more than 5 feet in diameter. Riding them was a tricky and often perilous experience, though that had little effect on their tremendous popularity. Introduced in 1885, the Columbia Light Roadster featured rubber wheels to make the ride a bit more comfortable, and, for the first time, brakes to make it safer.

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  • Title: Ordinary bicycle:Columbia Light Roadster
  • Creator: Pope Manufacturing Co.
  • Date Created: 1888
  • Location: Hartford, CT
  • Type: Outdoor Play
  • Medium: cord, steel, rubber, leather


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