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Cycling catalogue from 1896 - see what gear was in back then!

Metropolitan Machinists' Co showcases some weird and wonderful products ... and Brooks saddles...

One of the things we love about the internet is that it allows us to share what once upon a time would have been brochures or pamphlets once passed from hand to hand and becoming more dog-eared each time.

It’s not that long ago that instead of being able to ogle the latest gear on the internet, you’d have to pick up a catalogue from the local bike shop from whichever distributor they had a deal with.

Go back further still though, and you can find some real gems – have a look at this catalogue from the Metropolitan Machinists’ Co. from 1896 which has been posted on

Several things strike us; Brooks has been around for a very long time, cutaway saddles are nothing new, and antisocial cyclists existed (“the faults of [cycling’s] votaries are visited upon it”).

As did hipsters in a part of London now synonymous with them, judging from that chap’s moustache – indeed, source these products and turn up with them half an hour before the Tweed Run starts and you’d be quids in.

But “sperm” being the best form of lube – that’s a new one on us. We're guessing they mean sperm whale oil… hope so anyway.

Pictures courtesy Bishopsgate Institute.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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