Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Front Suspension Bike 1889

Here is a nifty front end suspension for a bicycle, from 1889.  In this design, when the front wheel hits a bump the front wheel and handlebars move up in relation to the frame.  Thus the rider is not really protected from shock, it seems to me.  Am I seeing how this works incorrectly? 



The Sturmey Archer Hub

A strong rival to derailluers for gear changing on bicycle was the Sturmey Archer three speed hub.   The SA Hub had internal gears, which were selected using a lever on the handle bars.  They are reliable, sturdy, and trouble free.

The Sturmey Archer hub was designed in 1902 by a schoolmaster, Henry Sturmey, and an engineer, James Archer.  Both of these men had designed earlier internally geared hubs, and were brought together by Frank Bowden, inventor of the Bowden cable in 1894, and owner of Raleigh Bicycles.  Raleigh favored use of Sturmy Archer hubs, which left the French to develop and popularize the derailleur.   The story of the development of the derailleur is told in the wonderful book “The Dancing Chain”, by Frank Berto and Daniel Rebour.

Tony Hadland has written a book on the Sturmey Archer Story that has the complete history of SA Hubs.  As usual, Sheldon Brown of Harris Cyclery has detailed information about Sturmey Archer hubs, the various models, and repairing them.



Chainless Drive Bicycle

Around the turn of the century there were a number of bicycle designs which did not use chains, but instead had a drive shaft with bevel gears.  This bicycle is from 1891 and uses four bevel gears and a drive shaft for propulsion.  This idea was later taken to motorcycles, such as the BMW shaft drive motorcycle some 50 years later.


Bicycle Spoke Technology

Bicycle Spoke Technology

Spoked wheels have been around for millenia, and have reached a high degree of refinement in bicycle wheels.  Bicycle wheels must operate for years with no maintanance, support hundreds of pounds of weight, and be as light as possible.  There are a number of possible spoke configurations, but the one that is used on most bikes is the “triple cross” tangential pattern.  If you look at bike wheels, the spokes are attached to the hub tangentially, and each spoke crosses another spoke three times, hence the “triple cross”.  This tangential spoke pattern was invented by renowned bike designer James Starley, and was patented in England in 1874.


When properly made, each spoke has a certain amount of tension on it when unweighted, pulling the hub towards the rim with a force of about 50 pounds per spoke.  When the wheel is weighted, by weight pressing down on the axle, the hub tries to move toward the ground.  When it is does this, the three spokes directly below the hub become unweighted, and the rim deflects a small amount, about .001 inches.  That is about the thickness of a piece of paper.  The tire around the rim deflects a good deal more than that.  Although the three spokes under the hub are unstessed, the other remaining spokes pull equally on the hub, and prevent it from moving in relation to the rim.  As the wheel is weighted and rolled, the rim is thus constantly flexing at the spot under the hub, and the spokes are constantly being unstressed and stressed as they come under the hub.  Below is an exaggerated view of the wheel under weight.


These spokes appear to cross more than three other spokes because the spokes on both sides of the wheel are shown.  Each spoke only touches and crosses three spokes on its side of the wheel.  When a rider hits a hard object, such as railroad tracks or a curb, the spokes most likely to break are the spokes that are above the hub and closest to vertical, and they are most likely to break where the spoke head enters the rim hole.  The hub basically shears them off the head of the spoke.

This information has almost no practical value, but isn’t it fascinating! Of course some sites go into the physics of things like spoke strain and hub deflection, such as  Held by Downward Force by John Forester, and Henry P. Gavin’s paper on Bicycle Wheel Spoke Patterns and Spoke Fatigue.

The First Tadpole recumbent tricycle? A cool one from 1875

According to the Field:

My tricycle weighs 83 pounds, and, when loaded for a summer journey of several days, it is made to carry myself, 196 lbs, and an overcoat, spare clothes, a book, sketch book, colors, etc to the extent in all of 221 lbs.  I have always a comfortable seat to sketch in, or to rest in when I need, with great ease in driving.  Although I can put it along on level ground at the rate of 8 or 9 mph, I seldom cover more than 6 in traveling/ but the road must be very bad to reduce me to 4 mph.


Rambler Bicycles

Thomas B. Jeffery was born in Stoke, Devonshire, England.  At the age of eighteen he emmigrated to the United States, and moved to Chicago.  Later he worked making models of inventions for submission to the U.S. Patent Office by inventors.  With partner R. Phillip Gormully he formed a bicycle company and became the 2nd largest bicycle manufacturing company in the U.S.  One of his accomplisments was developing a clincher rim and tire so that pneumatic tires could be used more effectively on bicycles.


The Gormully and Jeffery bicycles included a model called the Rambler.   In 1900 Jeffery and Gormully sold their interest in their bicycle company and bought a factory in Kenosha Wisconsin, and began making automobiles.   They kept the mark Rambler, and their cars were called Ramblers.  This is Jeffery’s first automobile. Some of his early designs had a front mounted engine, and a steering wheel, but his first production models conservatively followed the Duryea pattern, and had a tiller and a rear engine.

The Ramblers costs in the $750 to $850 range, and has an 8-hp, 1.6L, 1-cyl. engine mounted beneath the seat.   In the first year of sales the Rambler became the second largest selling car, with 1500 automibiles sold, second to Oldsmobile.


Bikes of Italy

Ciera spent the summer in Rome in an architecture program sponsored by the U. of Idaho.  While there, she traveled on various excursions to different parts of Italy.  Throughout her visit, she took pictures of the bikes she saw in Italy, and assembled them into a single image as a gift for me.  It has been so well received, a number people have asked for a print of the image.  She has a list of the location where each bike was photographed.

First Full Suspension Bike, Circa 1890

Here is a pretty well developed full suspension bike patented in 1890, a year before McGlinchey’s full suspension velocipede, and 32 years before telescoping forks of Sage. As far as I know, Becker is the first inventor of the full suspension bicycle



History of Bicycle Technology at Ignite Boise

Ignite Boise is a fun event where people give talks about subjects that interest them.  The format is that each speaker gets 20 slides, and they rotate at a steady pace each 15 seconds.  That is challenging, because you sometimes need to talk for more than 15 seconds on a slide, and for some you are done in 5 seconds.  Its a bit nerve wracking, as the Egyptian theater is packed with maybe 1000 people.  Here is my talk at the first Ignite Boise, the subject: bicycle technology:

1936 French SWB Recumbent

The question is, when was was the first recumbent made?  This is the earliest bent of the short wheel base (SWB) variety I have seen, by a Mr. Albert Raymond.  I know of an earlier long wheel base bent invented by Jarvis in the U.S., from 1902, but this is the earliest SWB I have found.  That it was from France should be no surprise, since Charles Mochet was making recumbents in France about that time period.