Starley Royal Salvo ca. 1885 Tricycle
From around 1880 tricycles were developed as alternative mounts for people that found it difficult or dangerous to ride an ordinary.
At the Stanley show of 1883, 289 tricycles were exhibited while the number of bicycles was only 233.
James Starley’s Royal Salvo was one of the most popular tricycles of its time, thanks largely to Starley’s invention of the “balance gear,” which acted as a sort of differential.
As you pedalled the single chain, using the spade grip to steer in a straight line, the balance gear provided the same amount of power to both wheels, eliminating the erratic steering that resulted from other tricycles’ tendency to turn towards the single driving wheel.
As you cornered, the gear continued to provide power to both wheels, but automatically allowed the outside wheel to travel faster and further than the inside one.
This made tipping over while turning much less likely.
To prevent tipping over backwards especially if you pedalled too hard going uphill, the Salvo had a tiny extra wheel sticking out at the back.
Partly because of the ride, partly because the balance gear eliminated an extra chain and partly because of the chain guard, the Salvo was the vehicle that opened cycling up to respectable women for first time. So respectable were these machines that Queen Victoria bought two and that of course gave rise to the “Royal Salvo” name.
The specimen we present here is in outstanding original condition; there is hardly any wear and she must have seen little use and have been stored carefully.
The brass plate on the backrest suggests this Salvo was made under licence in France.