We can only guess what C.A.E. Stands for. The 1890’s, just like the 1990’s, was a boom period for bicycles and for the companies that made them. Manufacturers sprung up overnight and disappeared just as quickly the next day.
A huge portion of the bicycles that were being built during the 1890’s came out of Ohio. The Wright Brothers and Huffman bikes were located in Dayton. Miami Cycle manufacturing was in Middleton. Fisher Mfg., Hanauer & Brothers, Evans, and Schleuter Cycles were all made in Cincinnati.
Shelby steel tubing came out of Shelby, Ohio. Columbus bicycles from Columbus. Hercules bicycles (not to be confused with the English Hercules brand of the 20th century) made their bikes in Cleveland. Cleveland bicycles? They actually came out of Toledo.
So what does C.A.E. Stand for? Cleveland American Enterprise? Charles, Arthur & Evans? Cycles, Armaments & Engines? Computer Aided Engineering? Probably not that last one.
To be honest, we’re not 100% certain that this bike was made in Ohio, but all of the components and a lot of the design elements suggest that it was.
This bike is in remarkably good condition for its age. The clincher style wooden rims and Goodyear tires appear to be original, and not only do the tubes still hold air, everything tolerated a recent (careful) ride around the neighborhood. If the Goodyear tires are in fact original, then they would have been from the first year that tires rolled out of the Akron plant.
The handlebar is a Kelly Adjustable model. Kelly handlebars were made in Cleveland. The adjustable stem pivot has about 25 notches in it which allows for 25 different height and width positions without changing the pitch of the grips.
The Sager saddle (made in Rochester, NY) looks like it could have been made in 1997, not 1897. By the way, Sager made seats that were pneumatically adjustable for plushness in the 1890’s. Campagnolo attempted to revive that idea with their own version in about 1995. Some ideas just keep resurfacing…
The CAE features a New Departure coaster brake hub (that part is from
Connecticut) and some really narrow pedals that squeeze the sides of a size 9 foot. The bike features a set of eccentric rear dropouts to help easily adjust the chain tension. It has a really good bell (that still works), and a neat collet system to adjust and lock the seat post height.