More Cycling Humor From the 1890s

The bicycle craze reached its peak in the mid 1890s. And so did bicycle jokes, which focused on the cost, scorchers, accidents and relationships. Here are several from 1896 newspapers …

“I second the motion,” said the man on the rear of the tandem.

“I don’t want the wheel, it is too heavy.”

“Say, I’ll throw in a lamp. That’ll make it lighter.”

(Back then, it was illegal to ride at night without a lamp – and they were oil lamps wheelmen and wheelwomen lit with matches)

Burrows: What is the best wheel on the market?

Hills: The best wheel is not on the market any more. I bought it myself two weeks ago.


Scorcher: “Thirty dollars, eh?” That’s nothing. I had a bicycle suit that cost $1000.”

Tandem: “Who took your measure?”

Scorcher: “A jury.”

(Back then, scorching was illegal and fineable)


Here’s the link to my previous post filled with bike humor.

He: “Dearest girl, the tire of my heart has been punctured by the tacks of your charm. Be mine, and let us ride tandem through life.”

She: “How sweet and strange! You have scorched your way to my affections, and I cannot back pedal against your attractions. I surrender the handle bar of my life to your hands, and as sure you will steer our united lives wisely.”


Bicycle Girl: I completed my first century yesterday.

Hobson: You look it.

Bicycle Girl: Sir!

Hobson: Oh – ah, I mean that’s a splendid record for such a young rider as you.


Maude: Papa said he doesn’t mind my latest fad if I can only stick to it.

Hilda: What is it?

Maude: A bicycle.


The Stern Parent: And what means of support do you have, sir?

The Prospective Son-in-law: It is generally admitted, sir, that I have the finest pair of bicycle legs in the country.


“Does a bicycle cost much?” asked the inquisitive man.

“No,” was the reply. “A bicycle represents a comparatively small expense. The brake and bell and lantern and accident insurance and other incidentals are the things that compel you to save up your money.”

(This is still kind of true today)


Talk of your own ability as a wheelman if you wish to make enemies. If you wish to make friends, listen while other riders tell of theirs.


Walker: “Er – when you run into a man the rider is as likely to get the worst of it as the pedestrian, isn’t he?”

Wheeler: “You bet he is! The last fellow I ran into only lost a front tooth, while I had four spokes broken and my sprocket wrenched all out of true.”


Chancellor Snow of the Kansas university has bought a bicycle and is learning how to ride it. The Snow fall in Douglas county is expected to be quite heavy for the next few weeks.

(I checked and there was a Chancellor Snow. Francis Huntington Snow was elected chancellor of the University of Kansas in 1890 – and managed to survive until 1908)


Alberta: “I see that Miriam and Mr. Bertwhistle’s engagement is off.”

Althea: “Yes – he bought a bicycle that wasn’t the same make as hers.”


“It’s terrible,” he said, “to see the way one member of Congress after another gets unseated.”

“Well,” his wife answered, “it serves them right for giving in to the bicycle craze.”

(These days, I’m not sure if this would be so terrible)

Interested in cycling history? There’s plenty more in my eBook: The Boy With No Legs Who Rode Like the Wind. Here’s the link to my story about it and here’s the etsy link to get the book.


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