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Note: This is a sub-section of the Stanley Show
THE CYCLE SHOWS.
The cycle shows this year are disappointing. The period of acute depression which the cycle trade has had to contend with during the last two or three years, and the severe competition which exists, have had the inevitable result of thinning down the number of exhibitors. Both at the Agricultural Hall, where the twenty-fourth exhibition, promoted by the Stanley Club, and at the Crystal Palace, where the ninth National Show are being held, there is a marked decrease in the space taken up by cycle makers. The motor-car builders are more in evidence than hitherto, it is true, and had it not been for the large increase in self-moving vehicles shown, all the cycle exhibits might have been easily covered by the roof of either building.
Last year the shows wore rendered more interesting than their immediate predecessors by the introduction of the "free-wheel" bicycle, which appears to have lived down the greater portion of the opposition with which it was met, and in some form or other is now to he seen on almost every stand.
Cycle makers are wise enough to understand that if the rider has to be tempted to discard his past season's mount they must introduce some novel feature, however small, and there is ample evidence this year that they have had difficulty in devising the so-called "improvements." Anti-vibrating appliances have been resuscitated this year. Such devices were prominent at the Stanley Show many years ago, but the introduction of the pneumatic tire caused the manufacturers to divert their attention to wheels, as it was considered that the air-inflated tire would provide sufficient insulation from shocks due to uneven road surfaces. The desire for high speeds - once the besetting evil of the cyclist, as it appears at present to be of motor-ear drivers - seems to have had its day, and has given way to the desire for case and luxury.
Manufacturers who used to devote all their attention to the reduction of weight are now no longer fettered in this direction, and are taxing their resources to devise all manner of modifications to ornament and give a luxurious appearance to their products. If not carried too far the tendency is in the right direction.
Another feature of the cycle industry of to-day is the motor craze. We cannot but regret this. The cycle is a means for exercise, and its chief function is removed by the addition of an engine. Moreover, the bicycle does not lend itself readily to the new adaptation.
The Singer Cycle Company, Limited, have, however, made a departure in motor cycles, which commends itself above all others which have come to our notice. The engine, of the internal combustion type, using petroleum spirit, the carburetter, speed gearing and ignition device, are all contained in the driving wheel of the bicycle, or in the front wheel of the tricycle, and the arrangement is not nearly so unsightly as in most motor cycles. The motor is capable of developing about 2 horse-power; it is air cooled, and is provided with the Simms-Bosch magneto-electric ignition. The cycle wheel is composed of two aluminium cages, which run on all bearings on either side of the motor, and are bolted together near the rim. The rim is of steel, and is fitted with a pneumatic tire. the crank shaft of the motor lies below the centre of the driving axle, and carries a spur wheel, which gears into an internal toothed wheel fixed to one of the aluminium cages. The relative speeds of motor and road wheel are as 7 to I approximately. Only one regulating lever is fitted, and this is on the handle-bar of the cycle. In one position this lever reduces the compression in the cylinder for starting, and in the opposite position it controls the explosive mixture, The machine only differs from an ordinary bicycle as regards the back wheel, the rear forks, and the increased width between the cranks; its weight is about 1 cwt. The carburetter is of special construction, and gives a constant mixture of air and vapour, thus dispensing with the regulating devices. Its design is such that the spirit will not spill if the machine is overturned, and as the explosions are caused by an electric spark, there is little danger of fire. This machine is the patent of Messrs. Perks and Birch, and is shown in the annexed illustration.
Reverting to cycles proper, we may briefly allude to one or two of the anti-vibrating devices which have not been previously described in these pages.
The Flexible bicycle, exhibited by Mr. B. L. Philpot, has specially-constructed front forks made of flat strips of spring steel, which extend down from the front and back of the square fork crown till they meet, when one ceases. The other continues, and at its end supports the front wheel spindle. The unevenness of the road makes the wheel rise and fall, and the two strips of spring steel forming each fork blade move slightly relative to each other. The chain struts are replaced by similar flexible steel strips, and though they resist the pull of the chain, admit of a considerable rise and fall of the rear wheel. The seat stays are fitted with a stiff, coiled, flat spring to accommodate the movement allowed by the flexibility of the chain stays.
The Birmingham Small Arms Company is introducing an elastic-framed bicycle in which the vibration is absorbed by three coiled springs secreted in the tubes of the frame. Two of these are in the back stays immediately under the saddle, and one in the top tube of the frame, Telescopic tubes are fitted at these three points, and thus the springs are allowed to absorb the vibration from the road surface. Four knuckle joints give the necessary vertical play to the frame, two near the bracket and one at either end of the top tube. In neither of the above devices is the distance from the saddle to the pedal altered by the elasticity of the frame, but the knuckle joints in the frame of the B.S.A, machine are not desirable features.
In rigid frames there is a tendency to discard the diamond form which has for so long been almost universal. The Referee Cycle Company is removing the top tube, which extends from the steering head to the seat pillar, and is substituting two cross tubes in the shape of one elongated horizontal letter X. Though not so neat as the older form, this arrangement gives rigidity to the machine and strengthens the bottom head lug. The various strews to which the fore part of the frame is subjected are in this model concentrated at the cross lug, where the least harm is likely to result.
The Garrard optional free-wheel and brake device — of which a description appeared in THE ENGINEER of July last — has been modified, somewhat, but the general features are the same.
Bradbury and Company, Limited, Oldham, show a "free-wheel-at-will" apparatus. In this arrangement the free-wheel clutch of the ratchet type on the rear hub can be locked to allow of "back pedalling" by the movement of a lever fixed on the top tube of the frame. This lever has a steel flexible cord passing down the frame to the back hub wheel, and is fastened to a spring fork, which moves a sliding cap. The cap when drawn out allows the back wheel to run free, and when the lever is moved the spring fork moves the cap over the sliding pawls, and locks the wheel, converting it from a free-wheel into a fixed hub wheel.
Lea and Francis, Limited show a clutch in which the friction is remarkably slight. When free-wheeling the bearing of the clutch, which is of the pawl-and-ratchet pattern, being mounted on the non-rotating axle, does not come into action, and the only parts in contact as between the stationary chain wheel and the hub ratchet are four small pawls. The friction thus caused is so slight that it will not drive the chain wheel, although this is mounted on a ball bearing. A further advantage claimed for this device is that the hub-bearing has not to perform the double duty of withstanding the pull of the chain in addition to carrying the weight of the rider and machine. The whole is simple of adjustment.
A self-inflating tire is shown at the Crystal Palace by the Self-Inflating Tire Company, Limited. Although not yet in a form suitable for putting on the market, the principle of the tire is easily demonstrated. It differs from other automatic inflators, inasmuch as it involves the use of no mechanical apparatus. Briefly, it consists of an ordinary pneumatic tire, but the inner tube does not rest on the bed of the rim, as is usual. On the rim is a flat steel strip inserted in a pocket of the outer cover, which has a suitable contracting fastening by means of which the tire is held firmly on the rim. Lying on this strip is a flexible rubber tube enclosed in a canvas pocket, while above this is a flexible band upon which the tire tube proper rests. The flexible tube next the steel strip acts as a pump, being open to the atmosphere at one end, and at the other it communicates with the tire tube through a suitable valve. As the wheel revolves the small tube is compressed, and a column of air is driven into the tire tube. The pressure to which the air is compressed can be regulated at will.
The Engineer of 30th November 1900