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How Servants injure Bicycles, 1897

Muc Off bike brush set, 1897

One of the most fatal mistakes that can be committed by the owner of a bicycle is accomplished when she entrusts the treasured possession to the temporary care of the servant.

With the best intentions in the world, the ordinary domestic does not shine with glory in the rôle of cycle attendant, and it is, I venture to think, questionable whether the servants who quite unconsciously inflict the most injury upon a bicycle are ranked amongst the very careless or the very careful.

From the careless servant I suppose we have all suffered. She has but little property of her own, and cannot be taught to respect the possessions of others.

[She] prefers to scrub out the lobby without removing the machine. When she observes the consequent splashings upon the tubing and the rims – which is not often, for she is not a lady of observant nature – she wipes them off with her damp house flannel, and concludes that she has conscientiously performed her duty in the station of life to which she has been called.

To ask such a woman to clean the machine after a muddy run is to voluntarily drop five pounds sterling in as many minutes. It is to the very careful servant to whom this sacred duty is sometimes entrusted, and, alas! too often has the careful servant been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

The mistakes she makes are the mistakes born of indiscriminate energy and misdirected zeal.

Yes, both classes of the domestic certainly manage to injure the bicycle, and although I have suffered from both of them, I do not know which of them can be regarded as the lesser evil of the two.

From The Rambler magazine, 5th June 1897


The high society author of this piece was not noted against the article but it was probably Susan, Countess of Malmesbury, a frequent contributor to this magazine and others. The Rambler was published by by Alfred Harmsworth who later went on to create the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. He became 1st Viscount Northcliffe.

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