This bicycle was manufactured for a short time in the 1890s. Owned and possibly donated by a Mr Howarth of Masterton.
The Crypto Bantam’s revolutionary epicyclic hub gearing enabled it to bridge the gap between the Penny Farthing and the safety bicycle (the design we know today). The Bantam was the very last of the original style of bicycle. The Ordinary (also known as the High Wheeler or Penny Farthing) was a machine for athletic young men, considered dangerous by the general public. As a result, cycling was perceived as an exclusive pursuit.
As the first solid-tyre safety bicycles were developed in the early 1890s, an effort was made to retain the front-drive concept but to reduce the size of the front wheel to make control of the bike manageable. Its makers said it met ‘the requirements of two classes of riders: those wanting a highly geared but very light machine for racing on road or path (track), and those preferring a machine that could be easily mounted without having to use a step.’
By the end of the 1890s, production of all front-driven machines had ceased. The pneumatic-tyre safety bicycle had become the dominant design.