Best Big Wheels is a brand name of a company which specializes in selling big wheel bicycles. They have been producing their products since 1885. Their main product line consists of two types: Classic and Modern.
Classic Big Wheel Bicycle
The Classic Big Wheel bicycle was introduced in 1892 by Charles J. Schwinn and sold until the early 1990’s when it was replaced by modern models with fixed gear systems.
In the early years of the 20th century, Schwinn designed and produced a number of bicycles using a fixed gear system. These were called “Schwinn” bikes because they were manufactured by Schwinn Bicycle Company. The first model to use such a design was the Model A, which was introduced in 1893. Later models used fixed gear systems with different gearing ratios (1:2, 1:3, 2:4 etc.).
The Schwinn name was later applied to several other fixed gear bicycles, including the Model B, Model C and Model D. All these models had similar features but differed in terms of materials used and construction techniques. Some models were made from steel while others were constructed out of wood or even canvas. The most common material was steel although some models featured carbon fiber frames. Most models also included brakes which could be operated via levers attached to the handlebars or pedals mounted on the front fork legs.
Some models also included a seat designed for a passenger.
The most popular of the models was the Model B. These were mass-produced and could be ordered in a variety of colours from your local department store. Because the frames were designed to be mass-produced, replacement parts were easy to come by. This led to an increase in the popularity of these bicycles.
Most of these bicycles were not sold new with bells and spokers. These were most likely added by the riders themselves.
The Model A was the first model of fixed gear bike made and was first produced in 1892. This was a high-wheeler, meaning that the wheels were larger in diameter than the tires. The rims used on these bicycles were 36 inches in diameter and the tires were 3.5 inches wide. The front wheel supported a massive front hub with fork blades that were 8 inches long.
The rear wheel was also 8 inches wide and supported by a massive tail-piece.
The frame used on the Model A was similar to the high-wheelers that preceded it. This involved using a triangle shape to which the wheels were attached. This created a very rigid and sturdy design, although this led to a decrease in maneuverability when compared to other bicycles. The pedals were connected to the cranks using a 1:1 gearing ratio. This meant that one turn of the pedals resulted in a turn of the cranks.
The rider of a Model A would stand over two feet above the ground. To add further stability, the handlebars were curved and even featured a small divot on the top side. There were no brakes on this model which meant that the rider had to rely on back-pedaling to slow down or stop.
The entire bicycle weighed over 60 pounds which meant that the rider had to be strong enough to lift it from ground. Despite this, the Model A was a commercial success and remained popular for many years. It was not until the invention of the safety (or Northern) type bike in the 1890’s that the popularity of high-wheelers started to decrease. These bicycles were similar in design but used smaller wheels. They were easier to maneuver and could even use the same frames as the Model B.
Due to the heavy nature of the Model A it was usually reserved for adult use. Children would more commonly ride the smaller high-wheelers such as the Little Mule or the Duck Foot.
The Little Mule was produced by the H.H. Hurt Company and was sold for between $50 and $60 a piece.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growth and Learning in Accelerated Schools: Big Wheels and Little Wheels Interacting. by I Brunner, W Hopfenberg – 1992 – ERIC
Big Wheels Turning. by N Pearlstine – Time, 1998 – elibrary.ru
Big Wheels in Philadelphia: Du Simitiere’s List of Carriage Owners by RF Oaks – The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1971 – JSTOR
Great souls, big wheels, and other words: Experiments with truth and representation in verbatim theatre by D McManus – Text and Presentation 2009, 2009 – academia.edu
Big wheels keep on turning by K Casteel – Engineering and Mining Journal, 2008 – search.proquest.com