1895 Gormully & Jeffery ‘The Rambler Tandem’
When the Gormully & Jeffery Mfg Co commenced to build bicycles – and that was sixteen years ago – their leading aim was to make the best wheel that human ingenuity, guided by the highest mechanical training, could possibly construct. Since that genesis of their extensive manufactory, they have spared no expense to make the best still better, whenever an opportunity has occurred.
The Rambler bicycle industry, although it has grown to immense proportions, did not spring up like a mushroom. The G&J Company’s ambitions were prompted by the spirit of the times when the bicycle age was in its infancy; and the first factory in the world which was devoted exclusively to the manufacture of bicycles and allied industries was erected by the Gormully & Jeffery Mfg Co. That was the nucleus of the enormous Rambler works which now push their eight stories ever upward, as if in sympathy with the constantly upward tendencies of this progressive firm.
The continual praise of countless numbers who ride our Ramblers is a good reward for our efforts. Besides its unequalled success in the land of its invention, the mails from sunny India, progressive Japan, the young republic of Hawaii, Mexico, South America, Australia and the conservative countries of Europe, bring us numerous newspaper clippings containing detailed accounts of Rambler victories on highways and track. ‘Rambler First’ has been the result of many a hotly contested race. World’s records were broken with it twenty-five times during 1894, and all its various victories run well up into the hundreds.
– from the 1895 G&J sales catalogue
1895 Gormully & Jeffery Rear-Steering ‘The Rambler Tandem’
Tandems with rear-steering linkage are believed to have been invented by Dan Albone, on his 1888 Ivel tandem. They were all the rage for a few years in Great Britain and America, where they were popular with courting couples. Most had linked handlebars, the style of linkage on this machine – connected by a rod to the front forks – being introduced in 1895. Gormully & Jeffery was one of the first companies to use it.
The frame geometry on the 1895 Rambler Tandem is quite different from later models: it was only made for one year. The most noticeable features are that the rear top tube is downwards sloping – whereas 1896 onwards had a straight top tube – and the front end (ie the lady’s section) has straight bars rather than a loop-frame style (as below).
The wire mesh gearcase is an interesting feature. The curved seatposts were common on American safety bikes of the early 1890s, but still optional in 1895. The front lamp is made by G&J.
THE RAMBLER TANDEM: 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898
The most easily recognisable difference between the first Rambler tandem (1895) and the models of subsequent years is the ‘loop’ of the front part of the frame (the parallel down tube from the headstock).
The 1895 model has straight bars at the front while the following years’ models have a loop, similar to the Rambler ‘loopframe’ lady’s safety bicycle.
If you compare the two illustrations more carefully, you can also see that the rear top-tube is downward sloping on the 1895. The frame geometry is actually quite different on this first year of the Rambler tandem.
The following catalogue illustrations are in date order:
CLOSE-UP DETAIL OF REAR-STEERING LINKAGE
DETAILS OF CONSTRUCTION