Tubular tyres on 1910 No 4 Aero Special Path Racer, with Fairbanks wooden sprint rims.

HISTORY: The wooden bicycle wheel was introduced by A.C Fairbanks, with patents 1893-1897. He was an American banjo maker, and the rim was actually a variation of the wooden rim used inside a banjo’s metal outer casing. You can see it here on the inside of my 1886 Fairbanks & Cole banjo.

A.C Fairbanks set up a cycle company ‘Fairbanks, Sanford & Cole’ in 1890, also becoming the East Coast agent for the British manufacturer John Marston to sell Sunbeam bicycles in the USA. Fairbanks subsequently sold his banjo business to focus on marketing his wooden rims.

BRITAIN: With backing raised by Harry Lawson and Ernest Hooley, Fairbanks Wood Rim Co also established a British factory. This was at Draycott Mills in Derbyshire, where the Simpson Lever Chain & Cycle Co was located.

SCANDAL: The market values of these and other cycle companies were vastly inflated and floated on the stock exchange in an enterprise created by Lawson and Hooley. Other companies drawn into the scheme included Dunlop, Raleigh, Swift, Humber, Clement-Gladiator, Singer, Schweppes, Bovril, The Great Horseless Carriage Co and Trafford Park Estates (Hooley created the world’s first industrial park there). However, the ‘cycle boom’ of the early to mid 1890s then started to slump and share prices collapsed. Many companies were liquidated. Frank Bowden of Raleigh Cycle Co was one of many investors who lost money by backing Fairbanks Wood Rim Co, badly affecting Raleigh cycle output.

Click on this link to view on the Online Bicycle Museum www.onlinebicyclemuseum.co.uk/1910-rudge-whitworth-no-4-aero-special-path-racer-2/