The Tricycle (1869)


 The generic tricycle, or three-wheeled velocipede as used abroad, is not likely to meet with general favour in this country. In its steering arrangements and mode of propulsion, its construction is similar to that of the bicycle. The rear wheels are large and light; the fore wheel is smaller and serves to guide the machine, being acted upon by means of the steering bar or handle, which causes it to bend in the direction indicated by the rider. The pedals are attached to the front wheel and are shaped like slippers, which facilitates the movement of the legs and at the same time admits of the feet being disengaged simultaneously. The movement required to propel this machine is a natural one, does not produce unusual fatigue and is analogous to that of walking. The larger three-wheeled velocipedes have a lever which follows the line of the eccentrics attached to the pedals and fits on to the axles. By assisting the movement of this lever, the speed of the vehicle is considerably increased and a simple pressure against it checks the rotary motion of the wheel and stops the progress of the machine. This lever is, in fact, both a means of impulsion and a brake. As this vehicle is chiefly patronized by the fair sex, the seat is more commodious than that of the bicycle; having sides and back of wicker and a horse-hair cushion. The tricycle is simply a hack, while the bicycle is a blooded horse that fully demonstrates the “poetry of motion.” The tricycle is easier to guide and safer to ride than the two-wheeled machine; there is however more friction and its speed is much less rapid. It has, thus far, been found impossible to construct a three-wheeler with the pedal method of propulsion that could compete with the bicycle in speed or pleasure of driving. Large wheels are necessary for speed. If a guiding wheel be applied to a tricycle of this kind large enough to run rapidly on the road and to counterbalance the size of the other wheels, it would be unsteady, of motion; the rider would be apt to be thrown headlong at any jar and the whole machine would be rendered unsafe. Many of the larger manufacturers have built the tricycle to some extent. Most of them have discontinued their make, finding it unprofitable and that the machine gave but little satisfaction. The Bradford Brothers of New York City obtained a patent and entered largely into the business, at considerable expense. They, however, soon stopped the manufacture and gave exclusive attention to their four-wheeled machines. The three-wheeled velocipedes of Messrs. Kimball Brothers, Boston, seem to be as popular as any in the market; but the sale is mostly local and but few of them are manufactured. Various inventors have endeavoured to obtain power, by additions to the gearings, in the shape of spring wheels and levers, but with little success. Others have applied the principle of the crank to be turned by the hand, using the hand for steering purposes. Mr. Wm. H. Hall, of Boston, Mass., has invented a tricycle, which is impelled by a crank, acting upon a small wheel, connected to another by an endless pulley. Every revolution of the crank turns the wheels of the machine once. This machine has not yet been fairly tested. A mechanic in Indiana also claims to have invented a machine very similar in construction to this of Mr. Hall’s. Messrs. Forbes & Sears of New Bedford, Mass., have invented a machine with two hind wheels running only about five inches apart. It is claimed that the hind wheels are so near together as to run practically as one wheel; and yet the rider can stop the vehicle and maintain his equilibrium. Messrs. Topliff & Ely of Eleria, Ohio, patented February 23d, 1869, a tricycle, in which, by a simple movement of a lever, the rear wheels can be run into one and the vehicle instantaneously changed into a bicycle.  A gentleman of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., has invented a machine, in which both the hind wheels are drivers instead of the forward one. They are fastened on independent axles meeting in the centre, connected by a novel arrangement of gearing, so that either wheel can stand as a pivotal point and the other be driven round it very swiftly. The inventor states that it will turn in less space than any other velocipede. Mr. John Tremper, of Wilmington, Del., has designed and patented a tricycle in which the front wheel is the driver as usual; but placed so closely to the axle of the hind wheels, as to give almost as complete command over the motions of the machine, in turning corners, as the two-wheeled velocipede. “The Bennet Velocipede” is characterized by a driving wheel four feet in diameter and two guiding wheels behind, each about a foot in diameter! “Samuels’ Velocipede” has also a large driving wheel, with small guiding wheels behind. This machine is propelled by hand cranks, connected with corresponding cranks in the driving wheel shaft. The feet are used for steering. The inventor claims that this machine will run twenty-five miles an hour on a level road. A New Yorker has invented a machine for ladies which he has placed on exhibition at Pearsall Riding School. The pedals are applied to the rear wheels and the small wheel in front is guided by a rod, passing back to the hand of the lady occupying the seat. One or two of the novel tricycles, modelled upon new principles, have proved decided successes. A gentleman of Ypsilanti, Mich., has invented one that he claims to have ridden from that place to Detroit, a distance of twenty-eight miles, in two hours and forty-eight minutes; and to have made a mile in Ypsilanti in two minutes and thirty seconds. The wheels of this machine are forty-two inches in diameter and are propelled by means of a double hand crank, no treadles being used. On each side of the hub of the forward wheel, is a grooved pulley; and attached to the straight portion of the crank are two more pulleys, the four being connected by belts. At each revolution of the pulleys, the vehicle is propelled a distance of sixteen and a half feet; and when an ordinary rate of speed is attained, it runs quite easily. Its weight is forty-nine pounds and the inventor claims that it will sustain two hundred pounds without danger of collapsing. It can be run on ordinary carriage roads with comparative ease. Samuel Marden of Newton Corner, Mass., has lately commenced the manufacture of a three-wheeled velocipede for which he obtained a patent in February, 1868. He calls his machine a “mechanical horse;” it is propelled by the weight of the rid and by friction. It has neither treadles, cranks or guiding arms. The rider rises in his stirrups as on a trotting horse. The saddle is so arranged that the pressure upon it revolves a gearing wheel, which acts upon a small one connected with the axle of the rear wheel; these wheels are thus made to turn very rapidly. It will be seen that this velocipede is constructed upon an entirely new principle. It is claimed that it can be driven upon the road, at the rate of from ten to fifteen miles an hour. This machine can be used by ladies, with a side-saddle arrangement. Its price is $125. Mr. Marden’s velocipede has been tested and we think he has a fortune in his invention. He has more orders than he can fill and is prepared to sell State, county and town rights.

The velocipede: its history, varieties, and practice, J. T. Goddard (1869)


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