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Friday, June 20, 2014

Unusual Royal Enfield tricycle folds for storage

Here's something you've never seen: a folding tricycle.
This Royal Enfield folding tricycle offered for sale on CraigsList in Louisville, Ky. is surprising. I've never seen another like it.

In the 1970s and '80s an American company imported bicycles and tricycles branded as "Royal Enfields" into the United States from Asia.

There was probably little or no relationship to the Royal Enfield bicycles and motorcycles made in England up to 1970. But the G. Joannou Co. of New Jersey was nevertheless proud of its innovative line of push bikes.

The line-up extended from beach cruisers and BMX machines to road bikes and included two very unusual products: the Village-Velo tricycle for senior citizens and the Compact folding bicycle for commuters.

Catalog illustration of the Compact folding bicycle.
These two seemingly very different vehicles featured one interesting similarity: a single long, curving rail connecting the headstock to the pedals and seat. This swan-like tube is their most distinctive feature. The single rail made the Village-Velo a comfy "step-through" for the ladies. A single rail also simplified the Compact's folding mechanism.

It occurred to someone — but who? — that it would be possible to incorporate the folding mechanism of the Compact into the similar frame of the Village-Velo. Ta-dah! A folding three-wheeler!

The folding three-wheeler does not appear in a 1983 Royal Enfield bicycle catalog on found online.

Note folding mechanism on the CraigsList tricycle.
Who thought of this? The factory? The distributor? Some bike shop?

I wrote the seller asking if he has more information. In particular, I'd like to know if the front wheel tucks in nicely behind the rear wheels, or does it just butt up against the back wheel? Asking price for the bike on CraigsList is $300.

1 comment:

  1. And another thing: note in the top photo that this tricycle has the front drum brake instead of normal bicycle caliper front brakes. That was an option at extra cost on the tricycle but was not available on the Compact. This is not a case of someone simply attaching a Compact front end to a trike. In fact, that would have resulted in an odd looking concoction because the Compact used 20-inch wheels while the tricycle used 24-inchers.

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