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CCM Light Delivery: A Thousand Variations on a Theme

The widespread use and commercial success of the bicycle as we know it today was the result of the introduction of the safety bicycle in the mid-1880s. The safety bicycle existed in a variety of forms and was initially used to describe any two-wheeled machine that attempted to provide a safer mount than the existing high-wheel bicycle. The Rover safety (ca 1888) on exhibit (810219) was introduced by J. K. Starley and W. Sutton in 1885. It proved to be a revolutionary design consisting of two equal-sized wheels driven by a chain mechanism connected to the rear wheel. The Rover was initially received with skepticism by cycling enthusiasts but was proven to be superior to other contemporaneous designs through a series of carefully staged races.

Within a short period of time, a whole new generation of Rover-inspired designs entered the market. By the early 1890s, the superiority of the new design was further reinforced by the introduction of pneumatic tires, which provided both improved traction and comfort. These tires were made commercially available through the efforts of John Dunlop in England and the Michelin Brothers in France.

Rover safety bicycle
Rover safety bicycle, Starley&Sutton, ca 1888.This was the third version of the Rover introdused by Starley&Sutton.Notice the solid rubber tires. (CSTM)

Canada saw a phenomenal increase in the number of manufacturers and riders of bicycles in the 1890s, as did many countries around the world, culminating in the great bicycle boom of the late 1890s. The increase in the number of manufacturers and bicycles brought about the collapse of the bicycle market in 1899, the same year that Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd, or CCM, was formed. CCM, one of the more enduring names in the domestic Canadian bicycle market, was established when the operations of four major Canadian bicycle manufacturers amalgamated: H. A. Lozier, Massey-Harris, Goold, and Welland Vale Manufacturing. The company weathered the worldwide collapse of the bicycle market in 1900 and continued to produce bicycles until it declared bankruptcy in 1983. The CCM name continues to be used on Canadian bicycles built by Procycle of St-Georges-des-Beauce, Quebec.

CCM Light Delivery bicycle
CCM Light Delivery bicycle, Canada Cycle&Motor Co.LTD,ca 1932. (CSTM)

Of all the CCM products in the exhibit, the CCM Light Delivery bicycle (880307) underscores the versatility of the diamond-frame safety bicycle and explains its global success. Bicycles had long been used as commercial vehicles, either in a tricycle configuration or as modified touring bicycles, before CCM introduced the Light Delivery in its standard product line of 1932. This bike had a stronger frame made of stronger tubing and a basket in the front to carry large, bulky loads. In the late 1940s, a "Pixie" bicycle motor was installed on the Light

Delivery safety. Motors of this kind were installed on bicycles not to increase speed, but to add power when climbing hills. This bicycle exemplifies how a sound basic design can be modified and improved to perform a variety of functions.

The Light Delivery bicycle also reinforces the relationship between our technological and social history. It was used by a green grocer to deliver fruit and vegetables in the Ottawa area from the 1930s until the early 1960s. It is a reminder of a time when the local grocer and the delivery "boy" were common fixtures in most Canadian cities.