A packing list from a bicycle tour guide in 1897. See the article to read the complete list.
A bicycle touring packing list for a Victorian Gentlemen in 1897. Note: A revolver is not considered necessary in the more civilized areas of Europe.

A bicycle touring packing list for a Victorian Gentleman in 1897

Dang! Times have changed. Here is a cycle touring list from the Victorian era. It shows both how culture and technology have changed. Back then metallurgy had finally advanced enough to build reliable gears and chains that wouldn’t bend or shatter, and motorcycles weren’t much more than a bicycle with an engine welded to the frame. It looks like the Victorian gentleman carried even more stuff than modern cyclists. I’m not even sure what some of it is. It’s really interesting to see how they classified a necessity (chocolate) versus a luxury (candle). If you are getting ready for your own bicycle tour, we have posted a list here: Supply List for World Bicycle Tour. Can you spot the differences?

By the way, this seems to be advertised towards the gentleman, meaning someone of high society, but gentlewoman took to the bicycle just as much, maybe even more. In fact, the bicycle was an important vehicle (literal and metaphorical) for the female emancipation movement as mentioned by Helen Keller and Susan B Anthony and more. And, you’ll see a related book by H.G. Wells below.

The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.

Susan B. Anthony

Note: We almost never repost stories or pictures anymore. (Social media does this now.) But this photograph of an old bicycle touring packing list is too good to pass up, besides the copyright has long-since expired. If anyone can tell me the source of this I would greatly appreciate it.

A British and Irish guide for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Advice on Touring Requisites.

I. Necessities:

Worn on person
• Hat or cap
• Shoes
• Trousers
• Flannel shirt
Flannel collar
Necktie
Pair stockings
1 flannel nightshirt
Hairbrush
Comb
Toothbrush and paste
Loofah
Money
Matches
Notebook
Drinking cup or flask
Waterproof cape
Razor
Strap
Shaving brush
Soap
Fullers earth
Vaseline
Sticking plaster/bandages
Sulphate or quinine
Carbonate of soda
Extra hat or cap
Cardigan
Pugaree
Compass
Pocket lens
Neckerchief
Prayer book
Maps
Spanner/tools
Oilcan
Lamp
Spare lampwick
Riding gloves
Cleaning cloths
Padlock and chain
Pincers
Shoelaces
Saddle cover
Wire
Knife
Field glasses
Studs
Scarf and pin
Towel
Bathing drawers
Chocolate
Sperm oil
Spare spokes
Spare nuts
String
Corkscrew
Barometer
Pipe and tobacco
Leather straps
Treadle pin
Nail scissors
Tyre clips
Watch
Dark glasses
Pocket dictionary
Passport
Conversation book
Guide book
White collars
White cuffs
Tape
Sponge
Flannel
Nailbrush
Paper and envelopes
Postcards
Stamps
Pen
Address labels
Visiting cards
Braces
Belt
Permanganate of potash
French chalk
Saddle and shoe lubricant
Cotton waste
Spare inner tubes if riding a machine with pneumatic tyres
Spares applicable to your specific machine
Small silk flag

2. Luxuries (can generally do without but very nice to have with oneself)

Slippers
Socks
Spare trousers
Coat
Vest
Supply of tea
Spare gloves
Spare white collars
Spare neckties
Various underclothing
Extra pair of shoes
Tow line
Writing case
Spirit kettle
Methylated spirit
Candle
Pocket filter
Waterproof sheet

Note

If travelling abroad take your money in the form of gold coins.

A revolver is not considered necessary in the more civilised areas of Europe, but if accosted by footpads or brigands, inform them that you are British and display your Union flag.


The first bicycle touring book ever written

I imagine this packing list is something H.G. Wells might have used while doing his bike trips.

An old copy of "The wheels of change" with red, canvas cover and gold emboss.
The Wheels of Chance; A Bicycling Idyll by H.G. Wells 1896

The Wheels of Chance features a story about a man and a woman cycling through the English countryside and addresses topics of social change, like female emancipation. It was written at the height of the first cycling craze (1890–1905). When practical, comfortable bicycles first became widely and cheaply available and before the rise of the automobile. The advent of the bicycle stirred sudden and profound changes in the social life of England when even the working class could travel far, fast and cheap, and the idea of traveling for pleasure became a possibility for thousands of people for the first time. This new freedom began to weaken the rigid English class structure and it gave a powerful boost to the existing movement toward female emancipation, which H.G. Wells explores in his story.

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