There are some who think, or pretend to think velocipedes are a frivolous invention, only calculated to subserve purposes of amusement, and soon to be superseded by some other ephemeral claimant for popularity. To sucji it perhaps seems a waste of time and space to record the progress of this most prominent mechanical invention of the time. We, on the contrary, have avowed and still avow our belief that the velocipede, as now improved, is destined to mark an era in the history of vehicles, an era that will last long after present cavillers and devotees have passed off the stage. We therefore continue our notes on the progress of this invention, and are confident from the many letters of approval we receive, they prove very acceptable to a large number of our readers. A-young mechanic in Dubuque, Iowa, has invented and constructed a vehicle which he terms the velocycle, and which he claims will supersede the velocipede. A local paper describes it : The reader must disabuse his mind of all the forms common to the velocipede, and imagine a wheel 5 feet 10 inches in diameter. Nay, the imagination must go further and comprehend this wheel to be, as it were, two wheels of this diameter, and of a proportion not unlike a driving sulkys—that the two are made a unit by a light rim twelve inches wide, running around and within two inches of the outer circumference of the two supposed wheels. This comprehension will enable the reader to understand that this wheel is in reality a rim 5 feet 10 inches in diameter and about 14 inches wide, with two flanges, of two inches depth, projecting over the edges. Having entertained this form, we proceed further. Inside of this rim or wheel, a light but strong frame is hung, by a novel device, which keeps it independent, so far as not to obstruct its (the wheels) motion. From the bottom of the frame, which is square, and running to the top of it, at an angle of nearly ninety degrees, is a band that may be properly called an endless ladder. The band, it will be understood, passes over a pulley below and a pulley above. On the edges of this endless ladder, in close proximity and parallel to each other, like strings of great beads, are a series of friction pulleys. These pulleys are so arranged as to unhinge on similar peculiarly contrived pulleys on the inner circumference of the main wheel or rim, near to the intersections of the flanges. The revolution of this band or endless ladder, through the medium of these pulleys, causes the main wheel or rim to revolve. While the velocipede is still having its run in Paris, the other cities and towns of France are putting spokes in its wheels in the way of municipal restrictions. At Lyons no one can appear in the public streets or highways on a velocipede, and at Bordeaux, if a velocipedist goes out after sunset, he must carry a lantern, lighted. A velocipede race took place at Worcester, Mass., a day or two ago. There were eighteen competitors, eight of whom were thrown. The remaining ten finished a course, of a little less than half a mile, in various periods of time; the fastest rider making the course in seventy-two seconds. It is said that the first velocipede made its appearance in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday, Feb. 16, and created a great excitement. There are at the present time some twelve or fifteen schools in Boston where the use of the velocipede is taught, and they are increasing in number every day, At these halls from four to twelve machines are kept, and the arrangements whereby one pays for learning differ at the several places. Some charge so much for a series of ten lessons, while others charge a small admittance fee and a certain price per hour for using the machine, as is the case in playing billiards. In either case they all made money, and a machine pays for itself in a very short time. The hall velocipedes are for the most part slim built affairs, not suitable for roads, where a strong machine will be required to withstand the jar of uneven roads. It is estimated that upwards of one thousand young Bostonians are taking lessons in riding, with a view of going on the road when the spring opens. Mr. Nat Perkins, of Riverside Park, will offer prizes for a seriesof velocipede races to come off on his race track early in the spring. Walter Brown has opened the velocipede rink, number 10, in Boston, on Court street, near the Revere House. A few evenings since, Mr. Hiram Henlin, of 720 Broadway, New York, and Mr. Samuel Keeler, the well-known and popular treasurer of the New York Theater, while at the velocipede school of Mr. C. Witty, engaged on a tilt at riding, which ended in rather a novel wager, Mr. Henlin agreeing to ride a velocipede against Mr. Keeler, from New York to Chicago, in less time than Mr. Keeler could, for the sum of $1,500 a side. Articles of agreement were drawn up, and a forfeit of $250 each placed in the hands of Mr. Charles H. Bladen, the final deposit was made at the house of Mr. Henlin, 720 Broadway, on the evening of Thursday, February 16, 1869—umpires and starting day then named. We suppose this will be the forerunner of several matches of the same kind, as the velocipede mania is on the increase. The affair is creating considerable excitement in sporting circles, and a large amount of money is already staked upon the result. A new style of bicycle:—the first specimen of which was completed about a fortnight since, and several of which have since been manufactured, and subjected to a variety of tests as to strength and susceptibility of easy propulsion and control—is, we are informed, the recipient of many, encomiums from those who have learned to ride it. It is called the Improved American Velocipede, invented by A. T. Demarest, of this city. It differs from the Ftyles best known to the public, in important respects. The iron arms, bet ween which the front wheel is held, are inclined back at an angle o f forty-flve degrees from the perpendicular, which inclination brings the seat in such a relative position to the fore wheel that a man of medium hight can with his feet reach the treadles of one of these velocipedes, the front wheel of which is forty-five inches in diameter, with as much ease as he can those of the ordinary velocipede, the fore wheel of which is of a diameter seven or eight inches smaller. This peculiarity gives likewise great facility in describing sharp curves and circles of small diameter, the body being inclined in the direction in which the rider wishes to propel himself, and in the direction in which the driving wheel is inclined. Those who have become expert in the use of this new machine, claim that the movement of the body in propelling and guiding it is more nearly analogous to that in skating than is that employed in controlling the ordinary bicycle. Indeed, they claim that it can be guided by the mere inclination of the body without perceptibly varying the pressure upon the handles to the one side or the other. It is also claimed that by the peculiar rakish arrangement referred to, three obvious advantages are secured—that the driving wheel never touches the pantaloons to soil them; that however formidable an obstruction may be encountered, whether it be a curb-stone or anything else of equal hight, the arms holding the driving wheel will never be bent back in such a way that the wheels will lap each other (as those of the other styles of velocipede sometimes will), for the reason that those arms point directly toward such obstruction, the sole effect of striking it being to lift the front wheel and the rider; and that the hind wheel—whether a straight line be followed or a circle described—remains in an upright or nearly upright position. The Mihcaukee Sentinel, of the 18th February, says that Mr. Cubberley, the inventor of the new velocipede, gave an exhibition of its speed and mode of operation at the Chamber of Commerce yesterday. The new-comer made a favorable impression, and will doubtless supersede the treacherous bicycles. This machine is described as a tricycle, the rider sitting over and between the main wheels, as upon a sulky. These are about the size of the hind wheels of- an ordinary carriage. The third, or guide wheel, is of small size, and serves merely to support the forward part of the machine. Its most striking peculiarity is the ingenious contrivance whereby the weight of the rider is made to contribute to the propelling power, thus materially relieving the strain upon the muscles of the arms and legs. The apparatus for guiding, in addition to its main purpose, is so connected that the arms may assist in imparting motion to the wheels when not engaged in giving direction. The movements of the body in riding are very similar to the gentle rise and fall of a person riding on horseback, the rapidity of the motions increasing with the velocity. The following remarks upon learning the velocipede are based upon practical experience and will be found of use to those who have not yet broken their colt: To learn the velocipede, where possible, it is advisable to use a velocipede not.too elevated, so that the soles of the feet touch the earth. To start with the velocipede it suffices to run with the machine, so as to master well in the mind the action of the fore wheel, for all. depends on this wheel. Half an hour of this is all that is requisite. Thel( one only of the feet is placed on the pedal, keeping the other leg on the ground, and one guides oneself in pushing this pedal a few moments. When one has by this acquired the notion of gov- 171 erning the velocipede, oae lifts the leg that was on the ground j and places it on the other pedal. Then cause the legs to regularly and alternately turn the pedals; speed of course is in-; creased by quickening the action. After an hour or two one , will certainly thus have acquired the means of attaining a medium speed. To get off, the feet are at once and simultaneously lifted off the two pedals, which diminishes the speed, j upon which iToth feet are put at once to the ground. There is no danger, with a little caution, in using this machine in this way, even for a noYice. The pedal is so-constructed that the foot of the rider can at once leave it, and he has only to put the foot to the ground at the side upon which the machine inclines to gain a resisting point: one must not let the handles go; these serve to maintain and restore the balance of the machine when the rider has got off it. Should the velocipede be too high to practice it in the mode above indicated, the learnershould get some one to hold the machine, the hands on the extremity of the bar upon which the rider sits, so as in no way to impede the action of the fore wheel. It is well to choose a sloping ground to learn on. So far, accidents have been neither numerous or serious, and the predictions that these machines would prove dangerous have not been verified. - A Cincinnati paper gives the following account of a velocipede accident, resulting, however, from no defect in the machine : A lad by the name of George drier, having a desire to learn to ride the velocipede, engaged one of the machines at the velocipede school on Seventh street, and commenced his lesson in the fourth story of the building. He proved to be a very apt pupil, and having-made the circuit of the large room several times with the assistance of his teacher, was anxious to try it alone. Mr. Miller acquiesced, and gave the novice a good start. The lad run the machine eight or ten yards very skillfully, but after that distance had been gone over, the velocipede became unmanageable, and made for a large hatchway in the middle of the room. The machine going at full speed, ran against the wooden guard around the opening, crashed through the boarding, and precipitated the rider to the cellar of the building, four stories and- a, half beneath. His fall was somewhat brTSken by the velocipede, which it seems struck the ground first, with him clinging to it; but notwithstanding this favorable circumstance, he received injuries which it is feared may prove fatal. The junior editor of the Mauch Chunk Gazette has been experimenting on the velocipede, and gives an amusing account of his experience. The difference between these new-fangled horses and the orthodox quadrupeds seems to be about this : In the case of the former, the animal has to be broken before it can be ridden, while with the latter it is the rider who must undergo the breaking process.
This article was originally published with the title "Velocipede Notes"