'New Whippet' bicycle, 1898.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This bicycle is fitted with the 4-speed gear of the expanding chain wheel type patented by Linley and Biggs in 1894. Linley and Biggs' original 'Whippet' introduced in the mid 1880s was one of the first Safety bicycles to incorporate shock-absorbing springs in the frame. This was an important innovation which helped to overcome the problem of vibration and rider discomfort experienced with the new smaller-wheeled Safety bicycles. Together with the advent of the shock-absorbing pneumatic tyre in 1888, this contributed to a boom in the popularity of cycling. In 1899 Linley went on to patent the 'New Protean' 2-speed gear, one of the earliest 'true' derailleur gear systems.