Bullock cycles are one of Adelaide’s oldest cycle manufacturers.
John Bullock was born 1874 in Adelaide, South Australia (S.A), having established himself already as a prominent local cyclist, he gained recognition as he was crowned winner of the Victor Harbour to Adelaide race.
By 1892 Bullock entered many local events and had been placing well, his cycle was an ordinary roadster and by 1893 he gained more of a name entering distance racing events.
His best finish was seventh in the 20-mile event that year.
By 1896 Bullock had been working as a mechanic at one of Adelaide’s oldest and tricycle establishments owned by W.Tyler and also at P.J Williams at Pulteney Street, Adelaide and decided to open up his own business.
Starting from home, he began to make a name for himself and in a short time there was demand for more bicycles to be built. A small shop was opened in Hanson Street (S.A).
Bullock was still active as a cyclist and in March 1898, the Norwood Cycling Club (S.A) held a road race to Port Victor (S.A), Bullock was the first to arrive in 4hr. 40 mins, he won the awarded Harris medal and was proud to have conquered the mighty Willunga Hill.
As more bicycles were produced the Bullock name began to circulate and in July 1898, W.J. Dale of Norwood Cycling Club rode a Bullock cycle to victory in the 100-mile and claimed fastest time, this put the Bullock name on track for greater sales.
By September 1901 Bullock put a display of his latest acquisitions of cycles; these included his own branded Bullock cycles along with B.S.A and Morrow cycles, available with a freewheel.
Bullock also had an interest in Motor cars and began to add these to his sales, these were available with a 2 ½ H.P motor capable of doing 30 miles an hour and carry 2 passengers.
In 1903 Bullock put on further displays of his range of cycles and also newly modelled motor-car which was being manufactured at his Pirie Street works.
The motor-car was identical to the machines which won the inaugural auto-velo trophy for the best average performance in the recent Paris-Vienna motor race, securing first and second positions. Bullock had the sole agency for South Australia and Broken Hill for this machine.
His cycles were attracting more attention, especially the path-racers which weighed less than 20 Lbs and by 1906, Bullock cycles were exhibiting their new cycle range; their principal attraction was their Royal Swift cycle with 2-speed gearing, the cycle was a said to be perfectly designed with the duplex gearing that it offered a delightful sensation of pedalling a high gear on level roads and in hilly country and against adverse winds the smaller gear would be brought into use thus enabling cyclists to ride with the greatest of ease.
The South Australian Police Cycle Corps used Bullock cycles as their preferred machine for transport.
Bullocks were available in various models ranging from light roadster models to competition path-racers and track bikes and in 1909 saw the introduction of Humber cycles, these were imported from the U.K and being advertised that His Majesty King Edward VII bicycle as he was known to take up cycling in his pastime.
Bullock cycles now had stores at 101 Pirie Street and 65 Rundle Street, Adelaide and offered the convenience of easy payments terms, advertised as a few pence per day paid in weekly or monthly subscriptions would secure immediate possession of the best bicycle. Other models on offer were King, Arrow cycles and a 3-speed model Bullock with a low, normal and high gear fitted with powerful brake. The finest cycle Bullock offered was the B.S.A roadster which was guaranteed by Bullock’s to be their strongest, also on offer were motor-cycles by Bullock in 1913.
Bullock cycles now catered a host of transport machines. Their magnificent Clyno motor-bike with side-car combined was British built which came with a list of achievements, the 5-6 H.P engine built of special construction was introduced with larger ports and exhaust pipes, other motor-cycles on offer were the Humber, Excelsior and Zenith.
Bullock cycles had grown at a rapid rate and soon employed mechanics and other staff to further increase the demand from public.
Bullock also sponsored many cycling events and donated his time to cycling events, each year the Bullock Road race would be run conducted by the South Australian League of Wheelmen which he would later become vice president. The 25-mile race became a popular event for upcoming and prominent racing cyclists.
By 1925 the “Arrow” cycle was Bullocks’ pride, fitted with the finest of British B.S.A parts it was the machine that upcoming and prominent racers would use to break many records which later turned to its second grade with the introduction of “The Bullock Special”.
It is noted that John Bullock was the first man in Adelaide to establish chain stores and by now had expanded to three stores in the Adelaide city and in country locations Gawler, Kadina and Pt. Pirie.
In the 1930’s Bullock cycles acquired larger premises at 171 commercial Street, Pt. Adelaide to meet the rapid increase of business.
As more cyclists used a Bullock cycle, records continued to being broken, these included; Willie Spencer and Frank Corry who were World champions and record breakers, Arne Bate who defeated Hubert Opperman in the 5-mile pursuit race at Payneham Oval (S.A), K.L Osborne winning S.A championships and scratch races and E. Arnold who was first and fastest at the Athelstone 20-mile Road race.
K.L Osborne became Bullocks top rider, sponsored by Bullock cycles and went on to open Bullocks cycles at Mt. Gambier.
Bullock was one of the early member of the Norwood Cycling Club and promoted the club as much as possible flying the red and blue flag and on the social side Bullock always admired horses and in his time owned a few racehorses, he kept fit with weekend runs and took trips away for relaxation.
In 1931, John Bullock died at the age of 57 years at North Adelaide however Bullocks cycles remained the forefront of cycling in Adelaide, his sales were increasing during this period due to the rise of upcoming riders, carnivals and the cycling needs of the public.
In 1938 Bullock cycles held a much eager exhibition featuring roller cycling, the event was to serve as a dual purpose of attracting interest in the sport and as a valuable training aid for locals competing in long distance events, sponsored by the Albany Cycling Club and despite that the weather not favorable a large crowd turned up to witness the spectacle and members of the public were asked to come and have a try-out, after the commencement of the event rider Doug Keyser burnt up the rollers which was caused by excessive speed which he had maintained throughout his effort and caused one of the rollers to come adrift, with an abrupt end and a disappointed crowd they were promised a reschedule in the following week. It was hoped that this would become a regular competition providing the response was favourable from the public.
By 1939 / 40 years the top road cycle made by Bullock was the Bullock ” De Luxe ” Road Racer, it was available with a choice of gears Cyclo, Osgear, Simplex and Trivelox dependant on frame gear fittings, it was built with Reynolds 531 and came with Dunlop 27 inch, choice of either Boa or Webb Pedals, Constrictor crankset and Milliken or Oppy bars.
The Bullock ” De luxe” Track Racer or available and fitted with same top level specifications. Club racers, special Tourers, Roadsters, Ladies, Juvenile, Tandem and delivery Tricycles also avilable.
Bullocks were now main suppliers of cycles, Motor-cycles, cars, Shearing merchandise, Caterpillar tractors, Breville Radios, Wheelchairs and were also agents for Malvern Star cycles in their reputable stores.
Bullock cycles continued for many years following World War II and it wasn’t until the mid-1950’s they ceased operating.
Bullock cycles were noted for their superiority and attention to detail and were sold at a more premium price compared to other cycles at the time.
Bullock cycles are recognized by their badge, its assumed that the early Bullock cycles had a rounder badge and then changed its shape to a more shield like design ( see image above ) later.
These badges were placed at the front of the cycle with stamped Bullock and a serial stamped beneath it; some examples are noted to have no badge and simply had a transfer bearing the Bull logo.
Pre-war WWI Bullocks are very scarce especially those at the turn of the century built as these surpass now over 110+ years.
Bullocks built a number of their roadster and road models as the daily rider machines as these became very popular and affordable and many exist these days.
Many Bullocks featured a lobster claw rear dropout, these incorporated a snail cam for quick insertion and removal of the rear wheel.
Special purpose built machines for their top riders featured elaborate ornate lugs that at the time were seen as expensive and tested the boundaries of design innovation on a racing cycle, in particular K.L Osborne own racing bike.
This racing cycle was chrome plated all over and featured diamond shaped chain-stays with fancy head-tube lug work and also incorporated a hexagonal shaped bottom bracket shell assembly, the script is large with the word Special incorporated.
Bullocks with fancy lug work had the serial stamped on the chain-stay near the insert of the Bottom Bracket.