MANUFACTURERS OPTIONS ON MODEL:

MODEL HISTORY:

    The "Flyte Streamlined" bicycle featured a "New Design Shock Absorbing Frame and Fork" which CCM introduced in 1936 and sold until 1940. The Flyte was available with either a 22" frame or the 20".  If the forks are not chromium plated underneath the paint, the bicycle is a 1936 model. Although, early production models had painted forks in 1937. If the forks are chromium plated and were originally enamelled to the mud guard line then it dates between 1937 and 1940 inclusive. The Flyte's streamlined frame and fork was invented by Harvey W. Peace who was the assignor to CCM in it's Canadian patent application filed on October 23, 1935. The first paragraph of the patent application explains the purpose of the design: "The principal objects of this invention are to provide a bicycle of an unusual novel and attractive appearance which will have a distinct appeal to the eye in conformance with the line adopted in the streamlining of vehicles and further, to utilize the streamline effect of design to accomplish a very distinct improvement in the riding qualities of the bicycle to effect the absorbing of road shocks and further, to provide a very desirable form of bicycle having a distinctly novel appeal." CCM was granted a Canadian patent (# 358849) for the Flyte design in 1936. The Company was also granted patents for the Flyte in the United states and Great Britain by 1937; Belgium, Italy, France and Australia by 1938; and New Zealand and Denmark by 1939. A patent was still pending in Holland in 1940. Although it received patents in many different countries for its unique streamlined design, CCM did not originate the idea of applying streamlining to the bicycle. Arnold, Schwinn & Co. introduced "The Streamline Aerocycle" in 1934 and the streamlined "Cycleplane" in 1935. According to Fifty Years of Schwinn-Built Bicycles published by the Schwinn company itself, the "Aerocycle" model "set the streamline fashion". The book also states that this bicycle "awakened other cycle producers and started all factories thinking in terms of something new in bicycles. By the end of 1934 a number of cycle factories had become new model conscious". The Schwinn designs were a success as the "market responded surprisingly." The curved seatstays on the Flyte were not the first of its type since the same design can be seen in a photograph of a 1934 "Silver King" (Neil Wood, pg.163). It should also be noted that the Flyte's front fork bears a resemblance to the victor spring Fork made as early as 1887 (see Donald Adams pg. 163-167). The Flyte was indeed a "streamlined" design as the Aerocycle was but it was also noticably different. CCM produced a design that it marketed as functional as well as stylish. The Company claimed that the curved seat stays and front forks were able to absorb road shocks better than the conventional diamond frame which transfers most of the road vibrations directly to the rider. The Flyte is a "shock absorbing frame" not a spring frame along the lines of the spring frame safeties built in the 1880s and 90s. This means that the rider cannot feel the bicycle give when he mounts it but he may benefit from the absorbtion of some road vibration into the seat stays and forks. In 1936, the Flyte was the most expensive CCM model behind the Flyer racing models and the delivery models. Its retail price was $5.50 more than the Motorbike, $10.25 more than the Boy Scout and Standard Roadster, and $15.50 or 51% more than the "Boy's" model. There are no sales figures available for the Flyte at this time but it probably did not sell in large numbers. The Company's decision not to resume production of the Flyte after the War indicates that it was not in great demand. In contrast for example, the Motorbike model was also a novelty when introduced but it remained on the market for approximately fifty years. A significant indication that the Flyte was neither a revolutionary design nor a sales success is found within the fifty year history of CCM which was published by the Company in 1946. The story of how the Prolite skate with the raised heel was developed is recounted in detail but the invention of the Flyte, the only bicycle design that CCM ever patented is not mentioned even once. Inconsistent with the 1936 and 37 catalogues, a circa 1936 photograph of two Flytes with the 1936 paint scheme shows them equipped with Motorbike style handlebars complete with crossbrace. It also appears that one has chrome plated Endrick rims and the other has enamelled Westwood rims and they are equipped with different sets of tires. In 1938, the aerodynamic saddle was deleted in favour of the traditional and less expensive Motorbike style saddle even though it was inconsistent with the streamlined concept. Similarly, an additional Flyte model was introduced which used a regular fork with Motorbike style fork truss, and Motorbike saddle and handlebars. These changes made the Flyte more similar to the popular Motorbike line and possibly less expensive through the use of simpler and more common equipment.

COMMENTS:

    It is interesting to note that CCM chose to design a streamlined bicycle that also could be marketed as having a more practical shock absorbing quality. Perhaps the Company felt it had to build value in the eyes of prudent consumers whom had to justify its high retail price in a time of economic depression. I believe that the Flyte was a failure for reasons of price more than styling and that slow sales explain the numerous changes that CCM made to the Flyte after its second year as well as the introduction of the "Flyte 8". The discrepancies between the equipment on the two bicycles in the photograph and that shown in the CCM catalogue may have originated at the CCM dealership where they were purchased, or CCM may have permitted customers to order them from the factory with their choice of equipment.

 

Courtesy of the National Museum of Transportation