Weekending C&V: Rollfast "Press Bike"
Unlike its more widely marketed cousin, the Rollfast "Hopalong Cassidy" bike, this Rollfast "Press Bike" had a very narrow target. Reporters on the mean street beat in big cities, and the quiet lanes of country towns could be seen riding in hot pursuit of all the stories of a day in early and mid-century America. Long sleeves pushed up to their elbows, coattails flapping in the breeze and, if Superman taught us anything, the ever-present necktie waving horizontally behind them, the intrepid newspaper men would mount their Rollfast to quickly make their way to whatever story might be breaking. A bank hold-up, the arrest of yet another crooked politician, a broken fire hydrant, or a cat stuck in a tree. Let the Tour de France charge through town, the reporter, with notepad clenched between teeth, could be seen pedaling furiously, weaving between team cars in an extraordinary effort for just a momentary backside glimpse of Coppi, Anquetil, or Poulidor. Surmounted with Kodak's finest Vollenda 620 [actually I am not sure of this particular model], the shots might often be fuzzy but, until GoPro perfected the technology, there was no better way to get up close to the action. Oh, and then…
Yeah, good story perhaps, but I don't think so.
as seen at the Long Beach Bikefest
This is a D.P. Harris Manufacturing Company 'Rollfast' bicycle. According to Dave's Vintage Bicycles the D.P. Harris Hardware and Manufacturing Co production of the Rollfast bike goes back to the 1890s. In the early 1900s Harris teamed with the H.P. Snyder Company. Snyder eventually came to manufacture most of the bicycle, with Harris providing some of the parts and taking care of marketing. While Snyder made the Rollfast model into the 1970s I can make out the name D.P. Harris Mfg Co on the head badge of this one suggesting they may have been the primary partner at the time this one came off the line, possibly as early as the 1930s.
That stuff is alright, but what I really like about this bike is the Press badge and camera mount. I don't believe either were standard. While the badge seems possible (I could see a newspaper reporter riding around 1930s Gotham in search of stories, the camera mount seems just for fun - the shutter speed of the Kodak would be a bit slow, and completely useless on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.