Riley Cars
Riley Cars
As old as the industry as modern as the hour
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The Riley Cycle Co. Ltd
 
The Riley Cycle Co. Ltd. was formed in 1896 by William Riley out of Bonnick & Co. Ltd which he had purchased in 1890 when he could see the decline in his weaving business.
 
  
 
I thought no Bonnick/Riley bicycles existed and people who know much more about the subject than me seem to confirm this, although some pictures from catalogues exist, but now I have been sent, from Sweden, pictures of an 1892 Bonnick "Path Racer" in unrestored condition and still with the original Michelin tyres and from England the owner Richard Odell a 1903 Royal Riley gentleman's bicycle Riley that was present at one of the Coventry Riley Register annual shows.
There is also a 1902 Riley in Melbourne, Australia owned by The Farren collection,  the pictures below are from their book "Bicycling Through Time". The book is available on line with this information from a seller - "The Farren collection have around 85 percent of the pre-1900 bicycles in Australia - all under one roof in a Melbourne warehouse-cum-museum. Thirty years of hunting them down and collecting has resulted in one of the most impressive early bike collections in the world. It includes 160 pre-1900 bicycles, including hobby horses, boneshakers and Penny Farthings, as well as early 20th-century models.  The collection charts the development of the bicycle, which foreshadows the invention of the motor car in many surprising ways. It also shows wider social change and the role the bicycle has played in female emancipation, war and its progression from plaything of the wealthy to utilitarian mode of transport of the masses."
 
Pictured below the 1892 Bonnick "Path Racer" that was found in a barn in Sweden, pictures from the owner Håkan Wikström.
 
 
 

 
 
Pictured below the 1903 Royal Riley Gentleman's bicycle owned by Richard Odell in England.
 
 
 
 
Pictured below the 1902 Riley, pictures credited to the owner of the "Farren Collection" in Australia with front suspension and "Antivibrator" saddle.
 
  

Below - picture from and credited to the October-November 2020 issue of the "Gazette", the NSW Riley club of Australia newsletter (all issues are available to view here, well worth a visit for all sorts of Riley related pages  -  https://sites.google.com/view/the-riley-cars-online-library/home , page title Gazette archive).
 
As can be seen this "tandem" is 2 bicycles cleverly joined together and although it has a Riley sticker it may be a red herring.
 

 
 
 
 
Below - A late Riley cycle
 
 
Below - "Antivibrator"saddle
 
 

Some of these images kindly supplied by cycle expert Colin Kirsh his website here -   The online bicycle museum 
 
 
 
 Above from left to right - Bonnick & Co. advert, Riley cycle co. ltd. advert and the cover of the 1904 Motorcycles catalogue which is available to view on the NZ Riley Club website title NZ149 by following this link  https://sites.google.com/view/the-riley-cars-online-library/riley-company-promotional and a modern colourised reprint seen on ebay.

Further images available from Graces guide to the Riley Cycle Co

Below - 1903 Moto Bi 402cc single cylinder motorcycle on show at the Coventry Transport Museum and an advert to convert any motor bicycle to a tandem.
 

Pictured below, a map of Coventry showing in the box the locaton of the 2 Bonnick premises, 52 (No.1 works and offices) and 53 (No.2 works).