Dang! Times have changed. Here is a cycle touring list from the Victorian era. It shows both how culture and technology have changed. Back then metallurgy had finally advanced enough to build reliable gears and chains that wouldn’t bend or shatter, and motorcycles weren’t much more than a bicycle with an engine welded to the frame. It looks like the Victorian gentleman carried even more stuff than modern cyclists. I’m not even sure what some of it is. It’s really interesting to see how they classified a necessity (chocolate) versus a luxury (candle). If you are getting ready for your own bicycle tour, we have posted a list here: Supply List for World Bicycle Tour. Can you spot the differences?
By the way, this seems to be advertised towards the gentleman, meaning someone of high society, but gentlewoman took to the bicycle just as much, maybe even more. In fact, the bicycle was an important vehicle (literal and metaphorical) for the female emancipation movement as mentioned by Helen Keller and Susan B Anthony and more. And, you’ll see a related book by H.G. Wells below.
The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.Susan B. Anthony
A British and Irish guide for cyclists and motorcyclists.
Advice on Touring Requisites.
Worn on person
• Hat or cap
• Flannel shirt
1 flannel nightshirt
Toothbrush and paste
Drinking cup or flask
Sulphate or quinine
Carbonate of soda
Extra hat or cap
Padlock and chain
Scarf and pin
Pipe and tobacco
Paper and envelopes
Permanganate of potash
Saddle and shoe lubricant
Spare inner tubes if riding a machine with pneumatic tyres
Spares applicable to your specific machine
Small silk flag
2. Luxuries (can generally do without but very nice to have with oneself)
Supply of tea
Spare white collars
Extra pair of shoes
If travelling abroad take your money in the form of gold coins.
A revolver is not considered necessary in the more civilised areas of Europe, but if accosted by footpads or brigands, inform them that you are British and display your Union flag.
The first bicycle touring book ever written
I imagine this packing list is something H.G. Wells might have used while doing his bike trips.
The Wheels of Chance features a story about a man and a woman cycling through the English countryside and addresses topics of social change, like female emancipation. It was written at the height of the first cycling craze (1890–1905). When practical, comfortable bicycles first became widely and cheaply available and before the rise of the automobile. The advent of the bicycle stirred sudden and profound changes in the social life of England when even the working class could travel far, fast and cheap, and the idea of traveling for pleasure became a possibility for thousands of people for the first time. This new freedom began to weaken the rigid English class structure and it gave a powerful boost to the existing movement toward female emancipation, which H.G. Wells explores in his story.
Note: We almost never repost stories or pictures anymore. (Social media does this now.) But this photograph of an old bicycle touring packing list is too good to pass up, besides the copyright has long since expired. If anyone can tell me the source of this I would greatly appreciate it.