wheel driving machine brought
BICYCLE. As the derivation of the term implies, the chief component parts of this machine consist of two wheels. The word is applied to those two-wheeled machines which have been brought to their present state of perfection for human locomotion during the past five years. Shortly after the close of the great Continental war in 1815, the first bicycle was introduced into England from France. It was at the best an awkward affair, composed of a couple of heavy wooden wheels of equal diameter, one behind the other, and joined together by a longitudinal wooden bar on which the rider's seat was fixed, the mode of propulsion being the pushing the feet against the ground. That such a cumbersome method of locomotion soon died a natural death is not to be wondered at. For the next fifty years no real progress was made, as various kinds of levers and other attempted appliances were found too intricate. In 1869 M. Michaux of Paris conceived the idea of making the front or driving wheel much larger than the hind wheel; and very soon afterwards, M. Magee, another Parisian, still further improved bicycles by making them entirely of steel and iron. The principle of crank action attached to revolving axles having also become developed, the pastime of bicycling was entirely revolutionized. India-rubber tyres and strong beaks were brought into requisition to relieve jolting ; and now-a-days a crack racing bicycle with a driving-wheel from 55 to 60 inches diameter does not exceed 50 lb in weight, or about half the weight of one of the old wooden machines. Tricycles have been tried, but no great amount of speed will ever be got out of them until the friction and weight can be materially reduced.
The diameter of the front or driving wheel of the modern bicycle varies from '2J.; to 5 feet, according to the length of the rider's legs. When it is meant for racing, most of the component parts are lighter, and the rest for relieving the legs when going down hill is dispensed with. The rider sits astride a small saddle, and the motive power is obtained from the feet working the crank treadles attached to the revolving axle of the driving-wheel. There being no lateral support to the machine, the first thing to be learnt is balancing, after which it is best to begin riding down a gentle gradient without using the treadles. Steering, whieh is managed by a transverse handle attached to the driving-wheel and placed in front of the rider, should be mastered in the same manner, after which the feet and legs may be brought into play on the treadles and speed gradually acquired. Falls are inevitable at first, and they are best avoided by slightly turning the driving-wheel in the direction the machine is inclining, not the contrary way. Care must be taken to keep all bearings, A:c., oiled from time to time, in order to prevent friction and so lessen speed. With the exception of skating, bicycling is the quickest means of locomotion that man possesses. A fair bicyclist can outstrip a horse in a day, whilst an expert can do so in an hour. Bicycling has rapidly grown in favour during the past two years; and long tours are now made with the greatest ease. Where the roads are fairly level, and in a tolerably good state of repair, the bicycle is unsurpassed as a means of self-locomotion. In hilly and mountainous countries, where there are no made roads, or where they are much broken up and heavy, it is next to useless, although india-rubber tyres to a certain extent relieve the jolting over rough ground. Lightness, great strength, and the best of workmanship are necessary in the manufacture of bicycles in order to prevent serious accidents. It is in the two former requisites that steel and india-rubber have such an advantage over iron and wood.
As a proof of the perfection to which bicycle-riding has now been brought, the following best performances on record, over a prepared nfinloT nath may he mpntinnori viz The last of these, as one of the London daily journals remarked, fairly ranks as "the most extraordinary performance on record of any man, animal, or machine." The distance from Tunbridge to Liverpool, 234 miles, has been accomplished in 18 hours 35 minutes. A hundred miles a day, over fair roads, has often been achieved for several days together, and many such journeys are recorded. A ride of SOO miles, from London to John 0'Groats, was made in 14 days, over unexceptionally hilly and heavy roads, in June 1873.