Tricycles (1869)

The Tricycle.

We have now introduced the reader to both the old and the new form of the velocipede. We have also explained the manner of construction, and have shown the special advantages which are claimed for each particular variety now in the market. Perhaps before concluding this branch of our subject, it is desirable to say a few words upon the other varieties of manu-motive, or pedo-motive machines, that the modern furore after velocipedes have brought into note. And first as to tricycles. In our observations on Four-wheeled Velocipedes, we noticed that some of them were in fact Tricycles, as they had only one guiding wheel, but we included these in a previous class, inasmuch as they made use of the crank axle alone, as the method of propulsion. The Tricycle, according to the modern definition of the word, is a machine in which the winched axle is used, and where therefore the principle of working, is in fact the same as that of the ordinary bicycle. The first wheel is the driving wheel and is worked in exactly the same manner as in the ordinary velocipede, whilst the two hinder wheels carry the chief part of the weight. The great advantage which in the eyes of many people, the tricycle possesses over the two-wheeled velocipede is the comparative safety which it ensures from over-balancing. It is possible to sit still and not to trouble yourself as to your equilibrium, whether your machine be at rest, or whether it is travelling along the road. The worker can therefore rest whenever he feels inclined to do so and possesses a much freer use of his arms than when mounted on the bicycle. Yet perhaps the safety is not quite so entire as the inexperienced rider might be led to suppose. It is true that the constant necessity of adjusting your position, which is one of the discomforts of bicycle driving, does not exist here, but there is in its stead, great danger and almost certain discomfiture, to an inexperienced rider in turning a corner. If the hind wheels are close together, there is also some danger, in driving along a road, inclined from one side to the other, because as both the hind wheels cannot be kept upright, their multiplication is a source of weakness: of course if these two wheels are some distance apart, this danger is in large measure obviated. In driving a bicycle along a frosty road, or along a slippery or greasy street, it is often found that a very small inclination out of the exact perpendicular will cause it to fall on its side. And this is perhaps one of the greatest dangers that can beset the city velocipedestrian. In the tricycle as we have seen, if the street or road be perfectly level, the danger from this cause is reduced to a minimum. After all the Tricycle is a very useful machine and it is by no means impossible that after the present rage for speed and style has passed away, its merits will receive still wider recognition. To the artisan or trader, or even to professional men, who leave suburban houses early in the morning, the tricycle will no doubt recommend itself, in preference to its swifter brother. It enables them, to carry considerably more luggage and also if they think fit, they may on a wet day, avail themselves of an umbrella. Whether we shall even become accustomed to the spectacle of a man velocipeding himself to business, under his umbrella, of course time alone can tell. At any rate the tricycle will afford him the opportunity, if he chooses to avail himself of it. To the commercial traveller or to the tourist, the tricycle will prove itself invaluable, as apart from the immense advantage of being able to carry their own luggage with them, they can stop when and where they please, without periling their limbs by jumping off. The tourist may balance the steering handle and rest to enjoy a fine prospect, or he may eat his bread and drink his wine, under the shade of the nearest tree, with no ghost of equilibrium to make him afraid. He may light his pipe and watch the curling wreaths of smoke disappear, or dream away a listless afternoon, without the fear of an upset continually before his eyes. It will be noted for the benefit of such readers, as wish to enjoy the advantage of both the bicycle and the tricycle, from the same machine, that in many of the latter the hind wheels may be taken away and their place supplied by one wheel only. If the long axle connecting the two hind wheels be entirely taken away and a short one carrying only one wheel, be inserted between the two springs connecting the bar with the axle, we shall once again have our old friend the bicycle.  An American inventor in order to guard in some degree, against the dangers of a capsize, which we have already spoken of and in order also, to make the whole machine more compact and manageable, has placed the seat of the rider exactly over the axle of the last two wheels and has placed the driving wheel as far back as possible, so that it almost touches the hind axle. It is confidently claimed for this machine, that the danger of upsetting is reduced to a minimum and that corners may be turned with greater ease than on any other machine. For the benefit of such of our readers as may wish to construe for themselves, the safest and most expeditious of the single driving wheel tricycles, note the following description from an American paper. “From the axle of the hind wheel rises a bow-shaped brace, to which is bolted one end of the reach, which consists of two parallel pieces of wood, bolted together and embracing between them an upright standard or pipe, terminating in a forked brace in which the driving wheel turns and having directly over the wheel’s rim, where the forked braces unite, a break-shoe or pad. The weight on the driving wheel and part of that of the rider are sustained by a special spring, which serves as a buffer in passing over irregularities of the ground. The steering bar, which is a prolongation of the forked brace, passes up through the hollow standard and is furnished with handles, as usual, at the top. The seat or saddle is sustained by two cast-steel springs secured to the front of the reach, by means of a cross-strap or block and bolt, so that it is easily adjusted further to the front, or rear as may be desired. The upright tube may also be adjusted in the reach so as to suit the driver. “Another form of American tricycle has the hind axle so constructed that the wheels may be placed either at a considerable distance apart, or close together, at the will of the driver, so that the long process of taking out the axle is entirely dispensed with. The tricycle has come into use largely in France, and to a less extent in America for ladies. Most of them seem however to have the treadle and crank axle. We shall speak of the adaptation of those of them that employ the winch axle, when we come hereafter to treat of velocipedes for ladies. An English mechanic has, however, designed a form of tricycle, which as far as we can judge, is much better adapted for speed and comfort combined, than any other form of the machine. It will be noticed that two drivers are required, who sit behind the machine and each of them propel one wheel. The single wheel in front is the steering wheel and may be guided by either one or both together. It is of course desirable that the drivers of this machine should be of equal strength and should accustom themselves to work to the same time, otherwise its course will be somewhat devious and uncertain. Perhaps the introduction of a crank connecting the two inner winches of the driving wheels would ensure regularity. If there is regularity in the driving, it will be seen, that the speed which may be covered, by a machine of this character is very extensive and the seat of the rider is even more secure than in the ordinary tricycle. One of the most recent constructions in tricycles embraces both the treadle and crank and also the winch axle it presents a very light and elegant appearance. It is built of the best materials and if driven by a muscular rider will attain considerable speed. The speed of tricycles will as a rule be less than that of the two-wheeled velocipede. The tricycle with two driving wheels may be an exception, as it requires even less force to produce a given result, than is requisite in the ordinary bicycle. The expenditure of forces must always be greater, where three wheels have to be forced along, than where there are only two, and these two fixed in a direct line. But the numerous redeeming qualities of the three-wheeler, will always commend its use to large classes of people. It is fitted for the old, equally with the young and as we have seen is available for either sex. The number of people that a machine of this kind will carry is of course, only limited by the muscular power of the driver. A heavy wife and numerous family can scarcely expect paterfamilias to propel them all, but there is no reason why the melancholy spectacle which continually meets us in the parks, of men wheeling out some poor child in a perambulator, should not be done away with. Let the proud parent mount the offspring, he is so anxious to display, between the hind wheels of a tricycle and he will thereby ensure his own comfort, the pleasure of the baby and much more of the public estimation, than it is his lot to obtain when propelling a perambulator.

The velocipede, its past, its present & its future, by Joseph Firth Bottomley, 1869


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