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THE CYCLE SHOWS. 
See also Stanley Cycle Club.
Although the annual exhibitions of cycles, motor-cars, and accessories, which are being hold this year at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, and at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, do not disclose any preeminent points of interest, it cannot be said that they are entirely featureless.
As we pointed out last year, there is generally one predominant feature. One year there is a boom in tires, the next year it is the "free wheel," the third gives us the "spring framed machines," and so on. This sort of thing is good for trade.
The tire question seems to have been solved, for a time at any rate. There is nothing but the pneumatic left in the field. It cannot be said that the public has taken kindly to the spring frame, and this accounts for the comparatively few machines so made which are on view this year. The free wheel, as was generally anticipated, has "come to stay," and is now to be seen on the stand of every exhibitor. Although many riders of experience were slow to take up the free wheel idea, it is generally, indeed almost invariably, preferred after being thoroughly tested.
There is a tendency amongst makers this season towards reducing the weights of machines, and with this object the diamond frames have to undergo some modification, notably the large diameter single tubes have given way to double tubes of much smaller diameter, somewhat in the manner of the Dursley-Pederson frame.
There has, moreover, been a further lowering of prices all round, and a ten-guinea machine fitted with all the latest devices is quite "the usual thing." The quality of the material and workmanship employed in these mounts leaves little to be desired.
Perhaps the feature of the year is the motor bicycle. This form of mount, although not taking to the eye, appears likely to be frequently met with on the road next season. Most of the leading cycle makers have taken up the manufacture of motor bicycles, and it is quite obvious that they have much to learn — or perhaps unlearn — before a mechanically perfect machine will be produced. The prevailing idea at present amongst makers is to take the safety free-wheel bicycle and clamp to one of the members of the frame a petrol motor of about 1.5 brake horse-power. From the shaft of this power is transmitted by means of either a chain or belt to a pulley or large chain wheel secured to the rear wheel; to another member of the frame is secured a tank for storing the petrol — usually about a gallon — and hidden away as far as possible under the saddle is a storage battery for igniting the mixture of gases in the cylinder of the engine. No change gearing is provided. When the rider wishes to go slowly he must stop his motor and pedal "for dear life."
The weight of one of these machines is usually shout 70 lb. to 80 lb. Of course, there is a startling array of levers and taps, which appears to fascinate the unwary purchaser and gives him the idea that he is getting a good deal for his £50 or so.
Altogether the result is not so satisfactory looked it through the engineer's glasses. Makers would do well to discard some of the principles underlying the construction of the bicycle and build from the motor, or include it in their general scheme, as one or two firms have already done. Then smaller wheels than the standard bicycle wheels might be found advantageous, and give a more efficient ratio of gearing. With the type of motor for the purpose little fault can be found. Enthusiasts are not wanting who maintain that the motor bicycle will eventually become as common on the roads as the ordinary bicycle is to-day. Although we are not disposed to agree with this glowing prediction, this form of machine, we must admit, does certainly offer great facilities for travelling long distances in a short space of time, with slight effort and with a minimum of expense, a gallon of petrol being roughly sufficient to carry a person close upon one hundred miles on fairly good roads, and we shall watch its development with some interest.
One of the most interesting exhibits at either show is that of the Paradox Variable Gear Company, of Lincoln. This is shown at the Agricultural Hall, and we hope to give an illustrated description of it in an early issue. Although not exhibited in rideable form, a gigantic working model shows admirably the operation of the gear. By means of an expanding chain wheel of clever conception, and in which the number of teeth remains constant, a range of six gears is allowed, giving a total variation of about 30 per cent. in the gearing.
Another interesting exhibit is that of the Birtwisle Hydraulic Jointing Syndicate, Limited, of Hulme, Manchester. This firm is introducing a new method of expanding the frame tubes of bicycles into the lugs by means of hydraulic pressure without the necessity of brazing. The tool by which the process is carried out is extremely simple the pressure of the water being exerted equally in all directions causes the tube to expand into the recesses in the lug.
The National Show at Sydenham does not compare favourably with its predecessors, and would have assumed meagre proportions had it not been for the presence of an excellent working exhibit of machine tools by Alfred Herbert, Limited, of Coventry, and a number of motor cars. There is nothing which calls for special remark except several exhibits of coupling devices, by means of which two bicycles can secured side by side with cross ties, making a four-wheeled vehicle.
Another form of coupler which appears to be receiving attention is a towing device, by means of which another bicycle or a two-wheeled carriage can be attached to the saddle pillar of a bicycle. It is stated that the tandem bicycle is not so popular as formerly. Curiosities at either show are singularly few in number, and this probably accounts for the loss of a good deal of amusement which at one time formed an attractive feature in a visit to the shows. It is, however, satisfactory to know that many fallacious ideas which existed only a few years ago have been exploded.