Monday, February 20, 2017

A Good Pair: Washington's Birthday and Westfield Sports Roadster

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, going by the Gregorian (new system) calendar. This being Presidents' Day (Washington's Birthday was part of that holiday's genesis), I thought it fitting to take out an "American" bicycle.

 Washington was not only a "founding father" of the United States, but also actively participated in boycotting British goods prior to the Revolutionary War. Washington wrote that Americans could make all the necessities of life in the 13 colonies: "[T]he necessities of life are mostly to be had within ourselves...". He believed that Americans should actively begin manufacturing finished goods equal to those from Britain.

This gave me a chance to ride my 1940 Westfield Sports Roadster. It was made in Massachusetts, with running gear made in Connecticut. It imitates English styles, but with some uniquely American twists: a New Departure coaster brake, Westfield keyed bottom bracket, internally tabbed/lugged steel pipe frame, and 1/2 inch axle Torrington pedals.

The Sports Roadster represents the early "modern" American bicycle for an adult rider and utility use. Until the 1930s, American bicycles often had single tube (tubeless) tires that glued onto wooden, clad, or metal rims.

This bicycle represented an attempt to modernize American bicycles for the adult, in the style of the English bicycle.

 The bike has the old-style, fabrikoid touring seat from the 1940s.

So 'Happy Birthday', President Washington. You would be proud to see what we could build, at least in 1940.

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