VELOCIPEDES (1869)

VELOCIPEDES

Sir, – I, amongst thousands of others, have read the very interesting articles that have appeared from time to time in the Daily News on the bicycle. About a fortnight ago I commenced taking lessons at a well-known velocipede school in the city and after steady practice of about an hour each day can ride very fairly, as I suppose I ought to do and now my difficulties, that were presumably over, commence. I am told that a man of a certain height requires a machine of a certain height and accordingly I am recommended one with a 36 inch driving wheel. Now, I am tall and slim and essentially a light weight, and yet I find that a man I know, of about my height, who weighs 15 stone, works a machine of precisely the same height and weight as the one recommended to me. On thinking the matter over in all its bearings, I came to the conclusion that there was something wrong here and in order to test the conclusion I had arrived at, borrowed my stout friend’s velocipede and two mornings ago, went out for a spin on a good level road. I was away two hours, went at the rate of about six miles an hour and arrived home with every garment I had on literally soaked through with perspiration. The height of the machine was right, but I unhesitatingly say that the weight was infinitely too great for a lightweight, requiring an amount of labour in the working totally unnecessary and rendering the trip a toilsome instead of a pleasurable one. The maker pooh poohs my complaints and asks me with perfect gravity, what difference extra weight can make when the machine is once in motion? In reply I would ask him, Scotch fashion, what difference it could possibly make to him if he were to ride between a couple of heavy cart wheels fixed velocipede fashion, with the tires bevelled down – he would only have the extra weight you know, sir, and according to his own showing, it could not possibly make any difference to him when the cart-wheels were once in motion. In velocipede schools the weight is not a mater of such grave importance, as the floors are boarded and there is little friction, the beginner generally making his first attempts on a machine too small for him which is proportionately light. I hear that other amateur velocipede riders are complaining that they cannot obtain machines to “fit” them (“fit” is velocipede slang.) I cannot pretend to determine the various weights that velocipedes ought to be made in, but I feel thoroughly assured that the system now pursued of making one height of machine one weight is radically wrong and until I can meet with a maker who can offer me machines of the height I require, but of various weights, so that I can suit myself, I shall not become a purchaser. I am, &c.

            Bromley St Leonard.                                      LIGHT WEIGHT.

Daily News, June 11, 1869

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