First Multi-Speed American Bicycle Discovered
A lone surviving copy of a bicycle from another era, a chainless 3-speed relic manufactured in early 1900, has been recovered and is being restored; called "The Hill-Climber," it was the first multi-speed bicycle to be produced in America
SEATTLE, July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A bicycle believed to be the first
production model in America to employ multiple-speed gear ratios has
been found and is being restored to original condition. When found,
only the patented gear-changing mechanism was still attached to the
rusty frame. A nationwide search for replacement parts and information
about the company that produced it has been undertaken.
Before this discovery, the first-known production multi-speed bicycle was marketed under the Columbia brand in 1903. It featured a two-speed "kickback" hub, and was also a chainless bicycle. The story of "The Hill-Climber" has recently been published in a book titled "Restoration." It is available on the Amazon-affiliate website Createspace at https://www.createspace.com/3382245
The inventor of this 3-speed bicycle, Peter J. Scharbach, called it
"The Hill-Climber." It was originally produced by Scharbach/Hoerth and
Company in San Francisco in 1902. Research shows that the company also
tried to produce an early automobile. It is not known how many of these
bicycles were sold during its production years from 1902-1904.
Chainless bicycles are manufactured today by a few companies, but the
product form is not widely known to bicyclists.
The surviving Hill-Climber, a frame with a shaft-drive (like an
automobile) instead of a chain, has three bevel gears at the rear
wheel, and shift linkage to change speed ratios. It was stored in the
basement of a retired dairy farmer outside of Pe Ell, WA, after
spending most of its life on his farm junk pile. His father, John K.
Muller, and many residents of the area invested in a manufacturing
company formed with the inventor in late 1903. Assembly operations were
moved from San Francisco to Chicago in early 1904. Mysteriously, all
their investment was gone by the end of the year, and the company
A descendant of the inventor was found living in Arizona. His great-grandfather was a blacksmith, inventor and entrepreneur whose patent for the chainless bicycle is still being referenced today. Remnants of the bicycle business are a few surviving photographs taken at a product roll-out event in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, c.1902. An advertising flyer, and other surviving documentation, was found in the possession of relatives of John K. Muller.
The bicycle is scheduled to be on display at the 32nd Annual LeMay
Auto Collection show August 29, 2009, near Tacoma, WA. For details go
More information about the bicycle, its restoration, and its place in history can be found at http://www.fusionstudios.com/hill-climber
Fusion Studios is a Seattle firm that specializes in Graphic Design and Writing Services for print and web.
Contact Al Tietjen, Director of Marketing for Fusion Studios, Inc., 206-547-1303 ext. 1, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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CONTACT: Al Tietjen, Director of Marketing for Fusion Studios, Inc.,
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