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Bicycling Articles for 2 more 1896 NYC-MSG Bicycle Show articles

The New York Times, coverage of the Madison Square Garden Bicycle Show, January 23, 1896 p. 7:


New Features in Rims and Hubs Seen at the Show.

    The wire suspension wheel operates on the principle of a series of strings in the form of spokes hanging from the upper half of the rim to the hub, while the spokes on the lower half of the rim, which forms the tread on the ground, yield or bend upward, so that the hub and all the machine above it are supported by the hanging of these wires on the upper half of the wheel, therefore called suspension.

    All wooden wagon wheels are made on what is called the dishing plan; that is, the spokes slant out of the plane in one direction from the rim toward the hub, the rim not standing directly over the base of the spokes on the hub, thus permitting the spokes to spring more, so that the wheel becomes more drawn in damp weather, and then in hot weather they straighten up again.

    Wooden rims are used on all the bicycles at the show, the only exception being the Eagle aluminum rim. All the rims are made of either second-growth white ash, rock elm, or hickory. They are shown varnished on the wood, stained mahogany, and painted all the colors of the rainbow.
    The average weight of the wooden rims shown for a cemented-on tire is about fourteen ounces; for a detachable, about eighteen ounces. Racing rims for light tires weigh about twelve ounces.

    The Shepard wood rim is made of second-growth white ash. The ends are butted together and an ovoid piece of hard wood is inserted over the butt ends of the joint. This insert extends about three inches each side of the butt-ended joint, and is flush with the remainder of the rim. These rims are bent by compressing the inner surface without stretching the outer periphery of the rim. This method shortens the inner surface of the rim six inches, thereby greatly toughening the fibre of the wood.
    A novelty shown by Shepard is a bent wooden handle bar, which weighs about six ounces less than a similar bar would weigh made of tubing. It is made, however, with a stem of steel tubing, which is nickeled and adjusted.

    Wooden chain and dress guards, with celluloid eyelets in the dress guards, the pair weighing five ounces only, are largely in use throughout the show on the ladies' drop-frame bicycles exhibited.

    Wooden rims and guards have helped materially to reduce the weight of bicycles. The average weight of the steel rim formerly used was about twenty-four ounces, and a set of chain and dress guards made of steel weighed about two pounds.
    A very neat flat wooden chain guard, to be used on men's bicycles, which is intended to keep long trousers out of the chain when the bicycle is ridden by businessmen in their regular clothing, is also shown.
    Some bent-wood saddle cantles are also shown.

    Wooden rims were first used in this country in 1891. Their universal use to-day proves their superiority over the steel rims, not only in weight, but in resiliency and speed.

    Shepard also shows a great novelty in a bent-wood bicycle frame made of one piece from second-growth white ash. It is of an oval shape, and from the bottom of the head it opens out to take the crank hanger and the rear wheel. The opening is also carried forward to the top of the head. It is braced longitudinally from end to end with two crossed wire braces. It also has two diagonal stay braces made of wire, running from the seat pillar to the crank hanger. It is painted brilliant red, and weighs two pounds. It is certainly a remarkable piece of wood-bending.

    The Plymouth wood rim is made of rock elm, having a dove-tailed joint. The Plymouth Company shows a handle bar made of rock elm, with a stem made of cold-drawn weldless tubing. The hole in the tube that receives the bolt is cross-bored, making it adjustable and reversible. This bar, however, weighs as much as the regulation steel bar does.
    The Plymouth Company also shows a frame of the regulation height and pattern, having the usual steel connections nickel plated, using, however, dowels of rock elm. It weighs, however, about the same as the steel tube frame does. The ends of the wooden dowels are tapered, and are forced into the joints and bolted through.

    The Lyndhurst ladies' bicycle has a wooden dress guard, fitted with cane webbing in a star pattern instead of the usual cord lacing.

    An extreme novelty shown, and one which is absolutely new in the Patent Office, is the Stevens wooden wheel, which was fitted with a pneumatic tire to a regulation bicycle frame. It has twelve wooden spokes, three-eighths of an inch thick, extending entirely across from rim to rim and from tangent to the hub. The hub has a flange, to which all the spokes are bolted. It is not only a direct tread wheel, like the old-fashioned wooden wheel, but also a suspension wheel, like the wire wheel. Each spoke is fastened to the rim by a screw. The peculiar curve of the spokes in the plane of the wheel prevents it from changing by atmospheric action, so that it is not liable to get out of true, and the curve of the spokes adds greatly to the resiliency of the wheel.

    All the wire bicycle wheels at the show are made of a special drawn cast steel wire or a piano wire. They all possess great tortional, or twist, strength, and the tensile strength is from 500 to 800 pounds. They average in gauge of thickness from the thirteen gauge, which is expressed by the figures .093, to fifteen gauge, which is expressed by the figures .072. Front wheels have from twenty-four to thirty-six spokes, and rear wheels have from twenty-eight to forty spokes.
    All the American makers use what is known as a tangent spoke, the spoke crossing from three to four of its neighbors, and tied at the crossing, and running tangently to the rim, where it is held in place by a nipple made of hard brass, which is bored and threaded, adjusting on a corresponding thread on the end of the spoke.

    The majority of the bicycles exhibited use a spoke having a bent hook, with a rivet head on the hub end, and which is drawn through the holes in the flanges of the hub.
    Many of the makers have departed from this method, however, and use a spoke which is straight from head to nipple. They claim that the absence of the bend in the spoke overcomes the liability to crystallization, which is apt to exist in spokes of a bent pattern.

    One of the best known forms in this method of construction is that used by the Liberty Company. The Keating Company uses a variation of this style of hub, which accomplishes the same result. The Spalding Company has a hub with a series of studs projecting from the flanges of the hub through which the spokes are drawn, thus also securing a straight tangent spoke. The Sterling hub is of a corrugated pattern, and is also known as a straight tangent-spoked hub.
    The Fairmount hub is really a narrow tread-spoking device. The hubs are one and a half inches wide, and the flanges, which are of an open skeleton pattern, are four and a half inches in diameter. The spokes are of the bent end pattern. The makers claim for it that they can by its use produce a tread three inches in width without danger of buckling the wheel.

    Barrel hubs are largely used, the standard pattern being that shown on the Columbia bicycle. Another form of barrel hub which is popular throughout the show is that known as the Wolff-American pattern. This hub differs from the other form of barrel hub by not having any flanges. The spoke holes are drilled through the body of the hub, and the spokes are readily placed or withdrawn by the use of a button-hole device.
    Notwithstanding the great popularity of the barrel hub, many of the oldest and largest makers still cling to the small-sized hub, which is turned from a solid bar of steel or forging. The barrel hub differs from this construction by having the main body, or sleeve of the hub, made of a piece of tubing of large diameter, on which the flanges for all the spokes are brazed, as are also the ball races on the ends of the hub.

    A great difference exists among the experts at the show as to what really constitutes a barrel hub, some claiming that any hub of large diameter is a barrel hub. Others claim that a genuine barrel hub, which is an English invention, should be built on the English plan, which is as follows:
    The body or barrel of the hub is of a large diameter so that the axles on which the cones are fixed can be withdrawn from the hub without removing the cones. The cups are then screwed, mouth inwardly, into the hub, thus permitting the cups to perform the adjusting and allowing the use of larger balls.
    The usual American method, however, in making barrel hubs follows the old plan of having the cup in the end of the hub, and the adjusting cone fitted on the axle and screwing into the cup, or ball race.