The Matchless, 1882

Nahum Salamon was manager of the Coventry Machinists Company in the 1870’s. He managed to get some of the patents in his name and left CMC to start his own firm early 1881. That was the Bicycle & Tricycle Supply Association in Holborn, London. His best known bicycle is the Matchless, that used the Salamon/CMC patents for guttapercha suspension in the spring, handlebars, and front and rear wheel bearings. Guttapercha is some kind of natural rubber.

Salamon didn’t make his own bicycles. They were produced by Singer and carry Singer serial numbers. In a lot of details you recognise the hands of Singer, like the brake lever, brake spoon, front wheel bearing, step. The rear hub is a model that was offered by Bown Aeolus. The rubber mounted spring is really different from the ones introduced by CMC in 1880.

Singer made the Matchless for Salamon until april 1886, and they continued building it as a Singer for some years after that. There's a German catalogue still offering them as late as 1890, but that may be old stock. Looking at serial numbers we know no Matchless bicycles after 1887. 

The name 'Matchless' has nothing to do with the later motorcycle manufacturer.

The 54 inch bike you see in the pictures is mine and I am very proud of it. It is absolutely original, even the saddle and the spokes. I bought it a few years ago in England, where I found it covered with black tar. This might have preserved this unique bicycle, and it was a nice job removing it and unveiling a well preserved Matchless. With the (Singer) number 17247 it is an early Matchless, probably early 1882. In a writing in the 1886 catalogue Singer writes they have built ‘a few thousand’ Matchless bicycles by then. They were top class bikes at the time, and with oval backbone and fluted front and rear forks and ball bearings front and rear the Matchless was really modern in 1881.

Handlebars and rear hub changed around 1886-1887, click here for more pictures & links on 'The Matchless'. 

My bicycle carries two stickers mentioning ‘G. SOUTHON - Motor and cycle agent – SHALFORD – Surrey. It may have been part of the famous Southon-collection, that was sold in 1965 and 1966 by Sotheby’s in London.

Compare this saddle to the
CMC patent 1879!