Scientific American cork tires, advantages of wooden parts, weirdest crank yet, and ads 1897



The first page is from "Scientific American" March 27, 1897. There's
more to life than bicycles, so don't ignore the short article on the
left about how trees change height according to the seasons.

http://i12.tinypic.com/866jouh.jpg

On the bottom left is Burton's cork bicycle tire. The details are
unclear, but it sounds as if three large cork sections are pulled
together onto the rim by an interior spring. Cork wouldn't wear very
well, so perhaps it's actually a solid inner tube and they forgot to
mention that a tire was mounted over it?

In the middle column, the Worden hickory frame is described, with
great praise lavished on how pneumatic tires have abolished vibration.
The use of wood is expected to get rid of any remaining vibrations, an
early example of our modern steel-aluminum-carbon road-buzz squabbles.

Interestingly, the article points out that wooden rims had largely
replaced metal rims and that wooden handlebars had become increasingly
popular.

Much weirder is the bicycle in the upper left--look at it carefully.
That's not a silly back rest! It's an even sillier set of shoulder
straps for rocking the whole seat back and forth to rotate the crank,
helping the strange pedals that (I think) still go in circles.

The challenge is to look at the two drawings, read the description,
and see if you can figure out how it actually worked.

Before moving on to the next scan, take another look at the wood-cut
of the Worden Hickory Frame bicycle and remember what it looks like.

Here's a typical "Scientific American" classified ad from April 10,
1897, a few weeks later:

http://i9.tinypic.com/89i2a7m.jpg

Notice how the same wood-cut is used in the ad? "Scientific American"
was just as shameless in marketing as modern bicycle magazines. the
weird pictures and descriptions are fun, but many of the articles are
little more than press releases, just like what we see today.

The ad page shows the bike boom at its height.

There are ads for Olive bicycles, Trump cyclometers, Matthews &
Willard lamps, the Worden Hickory Frame bicycle, Columbia bicycles,
the Brooks spring seat post, Waverly Bicycles, Turner aluminum chain
guards and spoon brakes, and "Half a Century of Cycles" with
illustrations.

Even the 1/4 price Wisconsin used-stuff ad lists bicycles first before
watches, guns, buggies, harness [horse], sewing machines, organs,
planes, safes, tools, scales of all varieties, and 1,000 other
articles.

Cheers,

Carl Fogel
 
In article <[email protected]>,
[email protected] wrote:

> The first page is from "Scientific American" March 27, 1897. There's
> more to life than bicycles, so don't ignore the short article on the
> left about how trees change height according to the seasons.
>
> http://i12.tinypic.com/866jouh.jpg


> Much weirder is the bicycle in the upper left--look at it carefully.
> That's not a silly back rest! It's an even sillier set of shoulder
> straps for rocking the whole seat back and forth to rotate the crank,
> helping the strange pedals that (I think) still go in circles.
>
> The challenge is to look at the two drawings, read the description,
> and see if you can figure out how it actually worked.


Horribly, I did. It helps if you realize the seat is attached to the
chainring, and thus bobs up and down with the cranks (but on a short
"crank", so the bob probably amounts to a couple of inches).

The two pedals and the "seat crank" are effectively 120 degrees apart
about the crank circle, and those weird pedal platforms with the extra
frame-mounted cranks are probably because that's the only way to keep
the pedals fairly level and the rider fairly sane given that the cranks
for the pedals are 120 (instead of 180) degrees apart.

I mean, I've seen some amusing sidetracks in the development of the
bicycle, but I'm trying to imagine how single-minded Mr. Nelson Merrill
of Altamont, NY was to have persisted with this idea beyond the first
5-mile ride. It must have amounted to an unpedalable clown-bike, though
a modern recreation might have some actual comic value.

Margaret Charles Chopper Collective, are you listening?

The Wiki entry on the original editor is worth reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rufus_Porter

Tried three times to construct gargantuan airships; they were,
respectively, destroyed by a tornado, destroyed by a rowdy mob, and the
third attempt "ended with technical troubles."

That's a vignette that hardly touches on his Howard-Hughes-class life.

--
Ryan Cousineau [email protected] http://www.wiredcola.com/
"My scenarios may give the impression I could be an excellent crook.
Not true - I am a talented lawyer." - Sandy in rec.bicycles.racing
 
On Sat, 15 Dec 2007 07:12:39 GMT, Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]>
wrote:

>In article <[email protected]>,
> [email protected] wrote:
>
>> The first page is from "Scientific American" March 27, 1897. There's
>> more to life than bicycles, so don't ignore the short article on the
>> left about how trees change height according to the seasons.
>>
>> http://i12.tinypic.com/866jouh.jpg

>
>> Much weirder is the bicycle in the upper left--look at it carefully.
>> That's not a silly back rest! It's an even sillier set of shoulder
>> straps for rocking the whole seat back and forth to rotate the crank,
>> helping the strange pedals that (I think) still go in circles.
>>
>> The challenge is to look at the two drawings, read the description,
>> and see if you can figure out how it actually worked.

>
>Horribly, I did. It helps if you realize the seat is attached to the
>chainring, and thus bobs up and down with the cranks (but on a short
>"crank", so the bob probably amounts to a couple of inches).
>
>The two pedals and the "seat crank" are effectively 120 degrees apart
>about the crank circle, and those weird pedal platforms with the extra
>frame-mounted cranks are probably because that's the only way to keep
>the pedals fairly level and the rider fairly sane given that the cranks
>for the pedals are 120 (instead of 180) degrees apart.


[snip]

Dear Ryan,

The article claims that the up and down seat motion is supposed to
mimic the natural motion of walking, that the flat platforms afford
more freedom and better support, and--and--

Like you, I'm just too skeptical to take the contraption seriously.
That shoulder-rig to pull the seat-crank upward is the last straw.

The fuss about obviating the dread dead centers is a nice example of
how that theoretical horror obsessed even our ancestors and provided
just as much fuel for marketing absurd contraptions back then as it
does today.

I'd love to see a slow-motion animation of the design. It would be a
wonderful exercise for a computer graphics student, but I wonder
whether investigation might reveal that we've stumbled upon the holy
grail of an unrideable bicycle.

Cheers,

Carl Fogel
 
On Sat, 15 Dec 2007 00:31:12 -0700, [email protected] wrote:

>On Sat, 15 Dec 2007 07:12:39 GMT, Ryan Cousineau <[email protected]>
>wrote:
>
>>In article <[email protected]>,
>> [email protected] wrote:
>>
>>> The first page is from "Scientific American" March 27, 1897. There's
>>> more to life than bicycles, so don't ignore the short article on the
>>> left about how trees change height according to the seasons.
>>>
>>> http://i12.tinypic.com/866jouh.jpg

>>
>>> Much weirder is the bicycle in the upper left--look at it carefully.
>>> That's not a silly back rest! It's an even sillier set of shoulder
>>> straps for rocking the whole seat back and forth to rotate the crank,
>>> helping the strange pedals that (I think) still go in circles.
>>>
>>> The challenge is to look at the two drawings, read the description,
>>> and see if you can figure out how it actually worked.

>>
>>Horribly, I did. It helps if you realize the seat is attached to the
>>chainring, and thus bobs up and down with the cranks (but on a short
>>"crank", so the bob probably amounts to a couple of inches).
>>
>>The two pedals and the "seat crank" are effectively 120 degrees apart
>>about the crank circle, and those weird pedal platforms with the extra
>>frame-mounted cranks are probably because that's the only way to keep
>>the pedals fairly level and the rider fairly sane given that the cranks
>>for the pedals are 120 (instead of 180) degrees apart.

>
>[snip]
>
>Dear Ryan,
>
>The article claims that the up and down seat motion is supposed to
>mimic the natural motion of walking, that the flat platforms afford
>more freedom and better support, and--and--
>
>Like you, I'm just too skeptical to take the contraption seriously.
>That shoulder-rig to pull the seat-crank upward is the last straw.
>
>The fuss about obviating the dread dead centers is a nice example of
>how that theoretical horror obsessed even our ancestors and provided
>just as much fuel for marketing absurd contraptions back then as it
>does today.
>
>I'd love to see a slow-motion animation of the design. It would be a
>wonderful exercise for a computer graphics student, but I wonder
>whether investigation might reveal that we've stumbled upon the holy
>grail of an unrideable bicycle.
>
>Cheers,
>
>Carl Fogel


Aha! I thought I remembered something faintly similar:

"A saddleless bike made in 1923. Featuring treadles instead of pedals,
this German invention was meant to combine the healthy effects of
cycling and running, simultaneously protecting both your knees and
your butt."


http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=rzyi&pic_id=120250&v=FH&size=large

That's an actual bike, while the Scientific American diagram may be
nothing more than wishful thinking. This German design did away with
the seat-crank and shoulder straps, but still sported big platforms
for the feet.

After pondering it for a few moments, I decided that I wouldn't have
the courage to try to ride the thing. If you stumble or lose your
balance or have any problems at all, you're going to land on that bare
tire whirling between your legs. And there isn't much protection for
either ankle next to the pair of sprockets.

Cheers,

Carl Fogel
 

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