Bicycling (1880)


Each year the number of bicycles attending the opening meet of the season at Hampton Court becomes larger and larger and the sport of exercise of bicycling obtains a continuously increasing help upon the public. The number of objections to this admirable combination of exercise and amusement has rapidly decreased for in the neighbourhood of London, at least, horses have become thoroughly acquainted with the new machine and having discovered that it is in no way dangerous, treat it with absolute indifference. The timid pedestrians have learned that the danger from bicycles is exceedingly small, for although the number of these machines about London exceeds by many times the number of riding horses, the annual police returns prove that the accidents caused by ridden horses exceed by many times those caused by bicycles. In truth, it is difficult to imagine any form of amusement more admirably suited to the young men of great cities than is the bicycle. Work over, however late, there is yet time for a couple of hours’ ride on a summer evening and in two hours not only is plenty of healthy exercise obtainable, but the fresh air of the country can be enjoyed. Few middle-aged men can watch the light vehicles gliding easily and noiselessly along the road without a feeling of regret that bicycles were unknown in their young days; and could the manufacturer of these machines prove a tricycle which should be as fast and as easy as a bicycle, its success would be enormous. Such, however, has not yet been done and one of the reasons of failure is the fact that in most tricycles the rider is placed on a seat instead of a saddle. In this position he loses all the benefit of the weight of his body and his sole propelling force is that produced by the muscles of the legs. There are some tricycles it is true, built with the saddle-seat, but most of these have other defects and at any rate they fall far short of the bicycle. Manufacturers do not appear to see that while in the latter machine the size of the wheel must be in proportion to the length of the leg of the rider, in a tricycle there is no such limitation. Given six-foot wheels and the saddle-seat, there is no reason why the tricycle should not fully equal the bicycle in point of speed, while possessing the necessary elements of stability. This accomplished, the amusement now only suitable to young men, would thus be open to those of all ages. – Standard.

The Star, May 27, 1880

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