Cycling History

Cycling Patents of Yesteryear: No. 3 – Vanevera’s adjustable handle bar, 1896

Morgan H. Vanevera of Little Falls in the county of Herkimer, New York, submitted his patent application for an adjustable handlebar for bicycles in February 1896. His simple design envisaged a handlebar loosely mounted in the stem and secured with a ratchet-wheel and pawl system that would “provide a simple and convenient means for adjusting the position of the handle-bar of a bicycle or like machine without the necessity of the rider removing his hands entirely from the handle-bar or in any manner interfering with the progress of the machine when in motion.”


Adjusting the handlebars was simplicity itself, at least as envisaged by Vanevera. With one hand on the handlebar the rider would compress the pawl shanks, thereby disengaging the pawl from the ratchet wheel, and allowing the now loose handlebar to be rocked up or down into the desired position. Releasing the pawls would then lock the ratchet wheel holding the handlebar in its newly adjusted position.


According to Vanevera, “The advantage gained by the use of this invention is that the rider of the bicycle can change his position and change the handlebars to any desired or convenient position while the machine is in motion and without dismounting therefrom, the said changes being accomplished so easily that the rider may effect them while riding at full speed.”


While ingenious I can’t help but imagine that when in motion fiddling with a pawl with one hand whilst moving the handlebar with the other is nothing else but a recipe for disaster.


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This entry was posted on January 5, 2015 by in Cycling, Cycling Tech, History, Patents, United States and tagged , , , , .
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