**Basil Riley was a tailor from Lancashire who actually married William (senior)s daughter Hannah so brother in law to William the father of Percy & co. This excess of Rileys and Williams makes things complex when sorting . Interestingly he was the one tasked with foreign selling trips and the one that William snr spent his last years with**
The 'Telephone bicycle' had an interesting frame design with a sloping front frame and an odd curved section following the rear wheel profile. This resulted in a shorter wheelbase but as they were using 32inch wheels rather than the 26 inch of today this caused the rider to sit much higher. Couple this with front brakes acting upon the tyre tread rather than the side wall on one wheel only plus a high riding position would mean stopping in the wet or on hills would have become quite exciting
info:-The Stanley Cycle Show or Stanley Show was an exhibition of bicycles and tricycles first mounted by the Stanley Cycling Club in 1878 at The Athenaeum in London's Camden Road. Britain's first series production cars were displayed at this show in November 1896. The 34th and last exhibition was held in the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington in November 1910. It was supplanted by the 1911 Olympia Motor Cycle Show and, a few weeks before that, Olympia's International Motor Exhibition.
...."H. L. Miller. Probably no business enterprise ever inaugurated in Peoria has had a more auspicious beginning than that of Kirkwood, Miller & Co., wholesale and retail dealers in vehicles of various descriptions and in a few kind of implements. The firm was organized March 15, 1890, and opened its doors for business about the 1st of April. In the sixty days which have elapsed they have already disposed of twenty-nine car loads of buggies. They occupy a building 50x100 feet in dimension, with three stories and a basement, the two upper floors being used as a repository. They handle buggies, carriages, carts and everything in the vehicle line, together with harness, windmills, hay rakes and tedders combined, and tank pumps. Their goods are manufactured on contract in Minneapolis, Rockford, Columbus and Cincinnati. The firm consists of Hugh Kirkwood, of Minneapolis, and our subject, each being the general manager of a branch house in his respective place of abode. " From Portrait and Biographical Album of Peoria County (1890).
**The above comment is inaccurate as Kirkwoods were described and listed as 'bicycle jobbers' meaning that at that time they re badged everything produced for them as theirs. Until after their court case where they basically fleeced the Riley family they did not manufacture cycles only buggies. So as I thought they bought in the cycles and vehicles so all Kirkwood Miller & Co Cycles are actually Bonnick & co between 1892 and 1893**
Peoria was a big part of the biking craze that captivated countries around the globe in the latter end of the 19th century and was one of the top five cities in the world when it came to international bicycle races. They built them here, as well with Peoria-made ‘high art’ bicycles so the decision to import Bonnicks made financial sense as the town is close to Chicago and within reach of New York for sales.
This seems to be the one Bonnick/Riley sold as the Kite see below pic from Robs pages
A result from the November 1892 Stanley Show at the Royal Agricultural Hall Islington was that "Kirkwood & Miller have almost entirely confined themselves to 'Telephone' cycles made by Bonnick and they intend to push them in 1893 ". In the USA cycle magazine of 1892 it was announced that "F. H. Henning, of Kirkwood, Miller & Company's bicycle department, leaves for New York on the 14th to meet Mr. Basil Riley, who is coming over with a sample line of 'Telephone' wheels for 1893. The 'Telephone' has given satisfaction this year, and K., M. & Co. will handle them on a much larger scale next year, Mr. Riley will only remain in this country a short time, as Messrs. Bonnick & Company, who manufacture the Telephones, will want to be on hand" Kirkwoods were then an importer and farm implement manufacturer from Peoria, Illinois which suggests they were bought for export and will have been re badged (Needs a US cycles expert here see pictures below and above). They also said that about this time Mr. Basil Riley, managing director of Bonnick Company of Coventry, England, came over with a sample line of cycles. He is then recorded as traveling after the New York trade show to Toronto to meet Canadian companies so the company focused on exports from the start. They then record "Bonnick & Company, Coventry, Eng., through their representative, Mr. Riley, closed a contract last week with Bostwick of Toronto" (Geo. F. Bostwick,). Their 1892 business review quoted, " Kirkwood, Miller & Co., were among the first in the field with their 1892 pattern bicycles, and being able at all times to furnish their lines thereby gaining a number of customers when they buy their 1893 wheels. They will continue to import their 'Telephone' and 'Kite' . . . . published in Western Wheel Works" from Bearings: The Cycling Authority of America, Volumes 4-6 by the Bearings Publishing Company, 1892.
This 'Telephone' cycle was described as built in seven patterns, weighing from twenty-five to forty-
By the end of this year they are also listed as the main supplier when Kirkwood were in court for not paying suppliers. This is first reported in the press as "The firm of Kirkwood, Miller & Co. will be a thing of the past. A representative of Bonnick & Co. , who manufacture the Telephone bicycle at Coventry, Eng. , is on his way to this country, and will place the ' Telephone' agency in the hands of other parties. Bonnick & Co. are trying to re- cover a consignment of 'Telephones' which are in the custom house in this city. They claim the goods are in transit, and that they have a right to claim them as their property. The assignee looks at the matter in a different light, and claims the goods as the property of Kirkwood, Miller &Co., who have received the goods and placed their signature on the government books. . . . "
. . . . In the newspaper as Peoria Trade Doings. "The case of Bonnick & Co. vs. Kirkwood, Miller & Co., to decide the ownership of bicycles in bond here, will be heard before Judge Weed, Jan. 23. The case was called last week, but at the request of Bonnick & Co.'s attorneys it was laid over. The amount involved is $8,164 " sorry not translated into £ but could not find the 1892 exchange rate $ to £ !
. . . . ."Hope for Creditors. There is hope for some of Kirkwood, Miller & Co.'s creditors more hope than there was a few days ago, at least. It will be remembered that some $8,000 worth of wheels, shipped by Bonnick & Co. , Coventry, and in bond at the government warehouse, were claimed by the assignee (for the benefit of the creditors), while Bonnick & Co. petitioned the court to return the goods to them, claiming that until the duty was paid the goods were only in transit and had never come into the possession of the firm now defunct. The court delivered a lengthy decision, refusing to grant the prayer of the petitioners". .....
. . . . ."Creditors Will Get Little. Peoria, March 17.— The recent failure of Kirkwood, Miller & Co. , has been the means of completely gutting the retail bicycle business of Peoria this spring. The assignee has put out a large number of high grade pneumatic tired machines at from $60 to $90. These wheels are fitted with '93 pattern Morgan & Wright tires, and at the prices they have been offered have been selling like "hot cakes." This, however, only affects the high grade market, as Kirkwood, Miller & Co. had no medium grade wheels in stock whatever. The assignee is now closing out everything, and inside of thirty days nothing will be left of Kirkwood, Miller & Co., except a few pages of history. Nothing has been heard regarding Bonnick & Co., of Coventry, or their intention of catering to the American trade again. It is believed, however, that they will come to this country some time during the summer and establish an agency and make preparations for the season of 1894, The 'Telephone' wheels gave very good satisfaction wherever sold, and Bonnick & Co. will have no trouble in seeming a good American representative. The recent decision of the county court here regarding the goods on consignment at Kirkwood, Miller & Co.'s store cuts the assets of that concern about $20,000. The court ruled that a large number of farming implements and carriages were on consignment, and turned them over to the parties who manufactured them. This, together with the heavy expense incurred in disposing of the goods, will cut down the assets to a very low notch. It is a question whether the house will pay over 15 cents on the dollar".
1894 This loss would have proved considerable for the Bonnick company and prove to be the reason they immediately switched from exports to the USA to selling in Europe
Cycle advert from Veloce Sport n°461 du 4 janvier 1894
Tandem advert from Véloce Sport N°467 du 15 février 1894
Badge from the headtube of the cycle
1897 The last portion of the Bonnick company at 1 + 2 King Street and the Riley company property in the next door Nicholas Street was purchased for £400 from Arthur Bonnick. He was then released from his contract to work independently for a few years until appearing in court in 1898 as a bankrupt with his only asset a vice for tube factoring.
1898 Development of the growing business was hindered this year by a fire in February which was severe enough for both the nearby Dunlop Fire Brigade and the Coventry City Fire Brigade to attend as Foleshill was so built up by then. By the time the firemen arrived the wooden building in the yard was well ablaze due to the the shed including the main gas line. The Dunlop crew directed the water jet onto the gas engine which controlled the fire and eventually both crews sorted it. When the damage was surveyed many 'ready for sale' cycles that had been finished that night for urgent delivery had been destroyed luckily unlike many businesses in the area they were fully insured.
RILEY CYCLE COMPANY LTD: SHAREHOLDERS' MEETING..1898 The annual meeting of the shareholders of the Riley Cycle Company, Limited, was held , at their works, Coventry, this afternoon. Mr. Riley /Manager (chairman of the directors) presided, and the various of the members of the Board were present, namely., Messrs. H. A. Webb, E. T. Peirson, W. Riley, and H. J. Riley; also W. A. Riley (secretary) unfit J. Rhodes (Messrs. Rhodes and Co., accounts/a):. The report of the directors called attention to that time which occurred upon the works in February,. which seriously interfered with the trade.,and for what they believed the profits would remain. much larger. The profit, for the year was, (£6421- 9s- 6d., which the balance of profit brought forward, from last year, made £3,411 . as dealt with.
The Chairman, proposing the adoption of the report and balance-sheet, said the directors had endeavoured to make the balance-sheet as simple as feasible, but there were one or two points that called for some remark. In spite of what had been a most disappointing year for the whole of the cycle trade, and in spite of loss of orders and inconvenience caused by the fire at the works,. they were able to show a good profit. They might have done a larger business, but the risk would have been greater, and the directors thought it wise to be careful where they placed their goods.. Allusions was made in the balance-sheet to the sum of £3.500 which was a reserve for the redemption of debentures; £2,000 of this had been paid, and a furthers £1,500 would be paid almost immediately. That practically reduced the goodwill the business and was much better, as by paying off these debentures they were glaring £125 per annum. The plant had been depreciated for the purpose of the balance-sheet, but the managing directors were of opinion that the plant was now in very much better condition than ever. The prospects' were good, and they quite expected to do considerable, more business than during the past year.. Great praise was due to the managing directors Messrs. W. Riley, jun. and Herbert J. Riley) for the able manner in which they had surmounted. the difficulties of getting to work again alter the fire.( hear,. hear.)
Mr. Webb seconded, and pointed out with satisfaction that the profit made represented 12 per.cent on the nominal capital. The position of the Company's, affairs did not at all warrant the low , price of the shares upon the market. Mr. T. E. Barnes (Birmingham') There has not been a share upon the market for a couple of months.
The Chairmen: 'That shows someone is holding them.'
Mr. Webb said the cycle trade was under a cloud just now. but be was sure their shares' were' well worth holding, as the concern was not over capitalised, nor did it suffer from extravagant , management. What few shares there were in the market place the directors wine buying up.
The report and balance-sheet were adopted a dividend of 5 per cent. for the year on the ordinary shares was declared. Mr. H. A. Webb was re-elected director, Messrs. William Riley, jun., re-elected valuer, and Messrs Rhode' and CO. (Birmingham) re-elected. auditors. A vote of thanks to the Chairman, which was heartily carried, concluded the proceedings. / Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 16 November 1898
The young Rileys decided to build a motor car, the design and construction of which were carried out by Percy Riley, who had just left grammar school. Work on the little voiturette started in 1896, and it was completed in 1898,
1899 By early 1899 the firm had started to produce tricycles and quadricycles using 2.25hp M.M.C engines both of which went behind the rear axle and, according to the type, one or two front wheels were fitted. (M.M.C. were the initials of the Motor Manufacturing Co of Coventry, formed after the restructuring of H. J. Lawson's The Great Horseless Carriage Company.. They made copies of the De Dion engines and motorcycles at the Motor Mills, from 1898 to 1904.) . They also used the German Cudell engines and Minerva. Business was so slow this year that they lost money (£685) for the first time since the Kirkwood & Miller crash as the Boer war had begun plus the first cycle boom had ended as motorised vehicles became more popular.
1900 At about this time engines were changed to a 2.75hp or a 3.5hp M.M.C. Again business was tight with reductions in the family members wages and a written loss of £1,506
1901 The first motorcycle appeared as a typically primitive 'solo' fitted with a 1.5hp Minerva or a 2.75hp M.M.C engine.
1902 A forecar design was added to the range.
1903 During this year a further option was added in the form of a 3.5hp MMC engine. The solos were now advertised as the Moto-Bi. Late that year, Riley started fitting their own engines in the vertical mounting position, but still keeping the Moto-Bi name. Engine sizes were 2.25-hp, 3-hp and 3.5-hp. The largest of those was intended for forecar use, with the option of water- or fan-cooling, and both forecars and sidecars were included in the range.
A later delivery cycle with a cyclemaster engine attached on youtube From the look an official MG & Riley Factory Cyclemaster Carrier Bicycle for delivering things around the site so 1947 onwards.
coming soon ! Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=0E1RAQAAMAAJ 1915 - Snippet view - More editions PERCY RILEY, Coventry, England. Filed Oct. 29, 1909. Serial No. 525,321. (Cl. 123–159.) 1. In a four cycle internal combustion engine a fixed cylinder having lateral inlet and exhaust ports, cylindrical port controlling means of the sleeve valve