Category Archives: Product Review

Pederson Bicycle – The Ride for You

What bicycle has 14 steel tubes, connected at 57 places and forming 21 triangles? Kiss goodbye to saddle sores, backaches, and bone-shaking rides over Capital Region pot-holed streets.

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The hammock-like saddle cushions the Pedersen cyclist from all such discomfort.

A Contemporary Pedersen

That saddle sways with peddling motion to give almost complete suspension. The cycle’s designer, Danish inventor Mikael Pedersen wrote of the saddle: “It `gives’ in every direction, the weight is evenly distributed … you may take my word for it that all cyclists and especially ladies after once trying this seat will refuse to ride on any other.”

The Cantilever Bicycle – A Lasting Technology 125 Years Later – This 1897 article from the Scientific Topics section of the Evening Gazette Burlington, Iowa 8/17/97 tells the whole story. (The article, or variations, was also published in 1897 and 1899 in 16 other newspapers covered by the “Newspaper Archive”):

Evening Gazette Burlington, Iowa 8/17/97

“The accompanying illustration is from a photograph of the Cantilever bicycle, cycle construction, and its inventor, Mr. Nickall Pendersen (sic.). One of the features wherein this machine differs materially from the ordinary safety bicycle is the weight (ED: A “safety bicycle” is the grandparent of the standard bicycle frame design in use today). Cantilevers range in weight from the nine-pound racer to a wheel for rough use, which weighs 14 pounds. The construction is the outcome of the inventor’s desire to secure a perfect seat. Mr. Nickall Pendersen (sic.) is a Dane, residing in England, and he has been a wheelman for twenty years. His idea was to enjoy the comfort of a hammock on a bicycle, which he accomplished by the use of silk strings on which the saddle rests. The front forks are attached to the rest of the frame by a pivot connection at the top and by a strong pivot hinge at the point shown in the cut just where the lower part of the frame joining with the crank hanger goes up to a point near the top of the front wheel. This connection gives the machine a sensitive steering device.”

Dursley Pedersen Bicycle ca. 1910

Mikael Pedersen, the Inventor – Danish inventor Mikael Pedersen

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Mikael Pedersen

developed the Pedersen bicycle, also called the Dursley Pedersen. He produced the bicycle in Dursley, England. Though never hugely popular, Pedersens enjoy a devoted following and are still produced today. Your author spotted one in Albany several years ago. On 3/30/20, E-Bay featured a used 8-speed for $2,500. The unusual frame is a pure cross, marketed as cantilever, and features a distinctive hammock-style saddle. Variations include lightweight racing, tandem, and folding designs. Other Pedersen innovations include two and three-speed internally geared rear hubs. The latter were troublesome and not up to the quality of the other all-time-great (and only?) English invention, the Strumey-Archer hub gearbox.

The Move to the UK – Pedersen received a patent in the United Kingdom for his bicycle in the early 1890s and constructed the first model out of wood. He formed the Pedersen Cycle Frame Co. Ltd., and when that fell into financial difficulty, production continued at the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Co. The Pedersen Cycle Frame Co. also licensed the design was to other manufacturers, and, while approximately 30,000 units resulted by the early 1920s, the design never really caught on.

A Contemporary Pedersen

In 1978, Jesper Sølling resumed production in Copenhagen and has been followed by others.

A Contemporary Pedersen – Count the Tubes!

The Hammock Saddle – Pedersen wrote that he developed the hammock style seat first. It provides suspension from road imperfections with much less weight, 4 ounces (110 g) instead of 3 pounds (1.4 kg) of traditional leather and steel spring saddles of the day. Pedersen then developed a frame, a truss assembled from several thin tubes, around his new seat design.

He attributed his inspiration to the Whipple-Murphy bridge truss. (Albany resident Squire Whipple was the first bridge builder to apply scientific principles to the field with his Whipple Truss bridge.*

Evolution of the Hammock Saddle – The frame design initially did not support seat height adjustment, and even after some adjustability was added, eight different sizes required manufacture. The non-standard frame design would not accommodate a traditional front fork. Instead, Pedersen developed a fork that also consisted of thin tubes assembled into a truss, which was attached to the frame with bearings at two distinct points, instead of through a traditional head tube. Pedersen also received patents for a chain wheel and bottom bracket combination and lightweight pedals.

Maybe another COVID-19 give-away will come through to finance your a “new” bicycle …

A Contemporary Pedersen

Selected videos to enhance your appreciation of the Pederesen foloow::

SOURCES:

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*  There are three Whipple Bridge samples in the Capital area – one leading to the residence of the Albany Police Department horses at Normanskill Farm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipple_Cast_and_Wrought_Iron_Bowstring_Truss_Bridge), one at the Visher Ferry Historic site, and a rare doublewide bridge in Town Of Claverack, Columbia County.

A Whipple truss has diagonal members working in tension. The main characteristic of a Whipple truss is that the tension members are elongated, usually thin, and at a shallow angle, and cross two or more bays (rectangular sections defined by the vertical members). The bridges are like a life-size “Gilbert Erector Set” that could have been assembled by a small work crew out of modernly light-weight components using basic hand tools – and, hopefully, some detailed instructions on how all the parts fit together. Whipple bridges were easy to transport and assemble and were common on the Erie Canal to connect parts of farms that canal digging divided and as “change bridges” where the mule team could cross to the other side of the canal. A notable side product of these and other Erie Canal bridges was the ever-popular “Low Bridge! – Everybody Down” also known as “Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal” or incorrectly as “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal.” Thomas S. Allen wrote the lyrics and music in 1913 possibly as a nostalgia song when the New York State Barge Canal with its tugs and self-powered canal boats drove the hoagies and their mules (and their way of life) out of business.

I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

 She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

We’ve hauled some barges in our day

 Filled with lumber, coal, and hay

 And every inch of the way I (we) know

 From Albany to Buffalo

Chorus:

 Low bridge, everybody down

 Low bridge cause we’re coming to a town

 And you’ll always know your neighbor

 And you’ll always know your pal

 If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

Get up there Sal, we’ve passed that lock,

 Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

 And we’ll make Rome before six o’clock

 Fifteen years on the Erie Canal

One more trip and back we’ll go

 Through the rain and sleet and snow

 And every inch of the way I (we) know

 From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down

 Low bridge for we’re coming to a town

 And you’ll always know your neighbor

 And you’ll always know your pal

 If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

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Proudly Made in America Since 1898 – Worksman Cycles

Before you get concerned about “gender appropriation,” “Worksman” is not a marketer’s dream word – like Sear’s (R.I.P.) “CraftsMAN” or “LeatherMAN” – but recalls the company’s founder, Morris Worksman. He began building local delivery cycles in New York City more than 100 years ago.

“Our Goal is to bring a more efficient, reliable and healthful transportation to modern industry” – Morris Worksman, 1898.

If you were in NYC during the days before “electric motorcycles” as delivery vehicles, you may well have seen a Worksman or two zipping around the streets with deliveries or chained up at a green grocers ready to go.

Worksman_hot_dog_cart

In fact, you may have been lucky enough to get a Good Humor Ice Cream treat or a hot dog from a Worksman cargo bike or cart. Another use for Worksman cycles is ferrying workers, parts and supplies, and tools from and to work stations in industrial settings. A Worksman “look-alike” was spotted at the College of St. Rose in 2013.

Typically, the cargo box for trikes rested either between two steerable wheels with conventional chain power going to a single rear dive wheel or between two powered rear wheels with a single front wheel for steering. The two-wheel bicycle had a small front wheel that left room for a cargo box above the wheel and a swing-down front wheel stand.

Worksman Low Gravity – Model LGB – $609

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Worksman Front Loader – Super Delivery Trike, Model SUD – $1,699

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A quote from the company president, Wayne Sosin, suffices to establish their “Made-in-America” bona fides. We make the frames, we weld the frames, we powder coat the frames, we assemble the wheels, we weld the rear axle sprockets that are actually made in the U.S. The handle bars are USA, the stem is USA, the steel fenders we use are USA-made.” Most manufacturing is now in S. Carolina although the Ozone Park plant still produces the hot dog and food vending carts.

Nevertheless, and all that aside, what’s available for the recreational or personal transportation cyclist? Worksman has a supplementary line of street-ready cruisers (for bikeshare and rentals), folders, and trikes.

Worksman Port-O-Trike PT2FJR – $485

PTjunior

Worksman Folding Bike 3 Speed FMB3CB – $409

redfolder

This posts sample folder speaks for itself with its photographic portfolio. It features a smooth shifting Strumey-Archer 3-speed hub, coaster brake, and 20 X 1.75”, 35-50 psi tires. This is not a compact fold and will benefit those with a low lift-over to their vehicle’s trunk area. The Chain card carries the company’s slogan, the down tube sings it praises, and the head badge shouts its lineage – “Pleasure Cycles – Ozone Park.”

Ready to ride – 

The fold – 

RESOURCES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worksman_Cycles and https://www.americanmanufacturing.org/blog/entry/manufacturing-means-business-for-american-made-worksman-cycles

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Accessory Obsessing – Brake Lever Covers

In July 2007, the products “Lizard Skins Lever Grips” (for “greater control and comfort’) seemed (at $3.99/pr.) as exactly the right accessory for brake levers on a flat bar. So perfect that, after “testing,” a second pair was obtained and then a third (to replace the first which were worn out) in August 2019 (now $8.00). Here they are worn out . . .

These grips had a nice fabric feel with a sewn seam and a rubberized liner. They mounted easily with the ever-reliable lubricant hairspray.

When both the second a third sets (on two different flat bars) wore out, it seemed like an easy task to get replacements.

Answer: NO.

Lizard Skins  offers all sorts of neat bicycle and sports accessories but brake lever grips no longer. The best result after a lot of web searching was “not available.”

Returning to the search recently, up came “Race Ready Pro Cycling” which leads to EBay  for a similar product in silicone at $8.99 and here they are installed in black.

These would also fit “North Road” handlebars but that seems a little de classe.

Just  ordered another set in red and one in black pair at $3.19 from another vendor . . . who turns out to ship from the “KEP Sorting Center,” Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – where else? Here is the proof:

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Saved by the Swiss – Who Else?

Your bicycle’s chain is second in importance only to your brakes. So what is the feature of a bicycle chain that allows it to remain serviceable for many thousands of miles? What’s the secret ingredient?

Hans Renold

Bicycle chains are properly “bush roller chains.” Hans Renold invented this common bike chain and patented it in Manchester in 1880. This Swiss engineer was born in Aarau, Switzerland (about 30 miles west of Zurich). In 1873 at age 21, Renold found work with a Manchester machinery-exporting firm. In 1879, he purchased a textile-chain business in Salford near Manchester and, a year later, gave us the gift of the Bush Roller Chain.

In Coventry, about 100 miles south of Manchester, J.K. Starley invented the “safety bicycle” also in 1879. This first replaced the “high wheel” Penny-farthing but with a drive chain unfit for its purpose. The chains were noisy and wore rapidly. The “safety” Starkey Addused the basic diamond shape configuration that survives to the present. This breakthrough in cycling allowed riders to sit lower on the frame and to have greater control of speed, more maneuverability, and ease of stopping.Singer Safety

The Problem – If a chain drive application is in a clean environment, the wearing surfaces are safe from dust, precipitation, mud, and airborne grit. However, as you may have learned from “hands-on” experience, there is nothing on earth dirtier that a bicycle chain. These exposed chains have high rates of wear. This is particularly so when cyclists are prepared to accept more friction, less efficiency, more noise, and more frequent replacement as they neglect lubrication and adjustment. As the chain grinds away on the accumulated grime, it produces a microscopic covering that continues to act like pumice on sprocket teeth and chain links. Thus, your bicycle chain does not really stretch – it just gets longer as the pins and rollers wear.

The Solution

So what did Renold invent? In his US Patent application he states (as he may well have in his earlier British Patent No. 26805 of 1910): “This invention relates to chains of the silent type, wherein segmental liners are employed engaging in the links and bearing upon the studs, as described for example in the specification of British Patent No. 26805 of 1910. It is the object of the present invention to improve chains of this type by modifications in the construction thereof designed primarily to facilitate lubrication and so greatly to prolong the life of the chains.”

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Layout of a roller chain:Roller Chain Layout

      1. Outer plate
      2. Inner plate
      3. Pin
      4. Bushing
      5. Roller

A Closer Look – So let us dive into a chain and see for ourselves. The layout of a roller chain consists of two outer plates held together by pins. (These immobile pins are what you partially remove to “break” [or open] a chain. Modern chains are opened at a master

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Dirty Chain

link without need of a traditional chain tool.) Within the outer plates is inner plate “sandwich” consisting of bushings staked into the two inner plates and upon each of which rides a freely moving roller this is Renold refinement.

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You can disassemble a chain further to see for yourself, but the chain link will then be usable. Alternatively, if you look carefully at a slack portion of your chain, you can spin the roller on its bushing with a small pointed instrument (such as a screwdriver). You will not be able to see the bushings as the outer plates, the pins, and the rollers hide them. At this point, you may well appreciate the importance of regular chain lubrication and occasional cleaning. What Renold did was replace sliding friction of pin-and-link chains with their immovable pins rubbing against sprocket teeth by designing a rolling motion thereby reducing noise and wear. While we may now take this simple insight for granted, it ensures that our bicycle chain will perform flawlessly for many miles. Notably, even with patent protection, Renold allowed cycling firms to use his roller chain in their own products without paying royalties.

Ian, a commenter on this post, reported that “One of the interesting facts is in the year 1906 when the helical roller chain was patented, some chain companies would have you believe they invented it in the 1990s and call it ‘low noise chain’.” (9-28-20)

Related How-to Videos –

A Little History – But what happened to Hans Renold’s firm? His great advance in chain design provided the foundation for modern precision roller chains. Renold was a brilliant engineer and a model employer who built a very skilled labor force. He was also an astute businessman. His business prospered, and he steadily ploughed profits back into it. In 1889, rapid business expansion called for a new factory, Progress Works, which the firm built on Brook St. In 1906, Hans Renold planned and started construction of Renold Works on open land at Burnage, five miles south of Manchester. Renold was devoted to establishing a sense of community among his employees and their families, and, in 1909, gave his active support to the establishment of the Hans Renold Social Union for the encouragement of a wide range of leisure activities. After his death in 1943, Priestnall Hey, his home adjacent to Renold Works at Burnage, went for use by the Social Union. Hans Renold Limited formed as a private limited company in 1903. It merged with The Coventry Chain Company Limited and registered as a public limited company named Renold and Coventry Chain Company Limited in 1930. It was renamed Renold Ltd. in 1967, and later became Renold PLC. The company still bears his name. Today, Renold employs around 2,500 people in more than 23 countries around the world.

So as you cruise silently down the road or trail with a clean and well-lubricated chain, be thankful to the Swiss for their gift to your cycling enjoyment.

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USA Bikes + Swiss Brains

TIMELINE –

  •  1864 – The Chain Making Company James Slater (later to become Hans Renold Co.) introduced the roller chain. Prior to this transmission chains consisted of only immoveable pins and plates.
  • 1873 – At the age 21, Hans Renold, son of a burgher family in Aarau, Switzerland, came to England and found work in Manchester with a firm of machinery exporters.
  • 1879 – His independent and inventive spirit soon found expression in the purchase of a small textile-chain making business in Salford. The Hans Renold Co. established following the purchase of the James Slater business. This makes Renold the oldest transmission chain company still in existence in the world.
  • 1880 – Introduced the patented his famous solid bush around which the roller spun. This was the origin of the bush roller chain, the design of which is still in use today throughout the world. Thus began the enterprise of which The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was to say in a memoir: “Few realize how extensive is the influence of Renold’s inventiveness on both civil and industrial life throughout the world. Hans Renold’s vision was not restricted to the prospects in UK industry, and over the following years, he began the international expansion of his company.
  • 1885 – Hans Renold applied for a patent for the block chain but he decided to give his idea to the cycle trade for all to manufacture freely. Brampton Brothers Co., who later became part of the Coventry Chain Company (and ultimately Renold Chains Ltd.), experimented with self-lubricating bicycle chain.
  • 1888 – Began riveting the bearing pins in the assembled chain.
  • 1889 – Designed and manufactured a purpose-built plate hole-punching machine. Designed and manufactured a machine for the dry tumbling (jingling) of chain components.
  • 1893 – As early as 1893, begins using hardened components.
  • 1895 – Designed and manufactured a machine for producing the rotary rivet on the ends of the chain bearing pins. The need for an Inverted tooth (silent chain) was apparent to Hans Renold and this resulted in his patent of 1895. Although his design of chain was superseded in later years by the silent chain with rocker joints, he made an impact in the introduction of such a chain. Hans Renold Co. designed and manufactured a machine for the wet tumbling (jingling) of chain components.
  • 1896 – Designed and manufactured a machine for the proof loading of chains. Introduced the 48-hour week when the general practice in engineering was 52 or more.
  • 1899 – Introduced patented feature of the end recess in the bearing pin. Brampton Brothers Ltd. patented the integral bush/inner plate chain upon which so many cycle chains were have been based. Introduced a Works Canteen. Introduced the round-ended necked (i.e., shouldered) bearing pin in their 1899 patent.
  • 1900 – Designed and manufactured a coning machine (which tapers the end of a metal tube or rod to facilitate insertion elsewhere).
  • 1903 – Hans Renold Ltd. formed.
  • 1905 – Introduced percussion testing on chain components. Designed and manufactured a semi-automatic drifting (hole punching) machine for use on assembled inner links.
  • 1906 – Began supplying mortise block chains (and associated equipment) which was a notable part of the business for 60 years. During the construction of a new factory (rather than using belt drives from overhead line shafts), designed and installed overhead chain drives. Began designing and manufacturing special-purpose machines for the assembly of chains. Began the manufacture of chain wheels. Developed a machine for centerless grinding of bearing pins. This was long before centerless grinders became the factor in machine shop practice. The Coventry Chain Company Ltd. (who later became part of the Renold group) patented the helical (spiral) roller formed by a wire strip.
  • 1907 – Developed a new tooth form for roller chain wheels.
  • 1909 – Introduced torsion testing on chain components. Began supplying transmission chain for Aircraft. Hans Renold founded the Hans Renold Social Union.
  • 1910 – Designed and manufactured a tumbler (jingler) for polishing and bluing chain plates. The blued plates were a feature of the Hans Renold chain for many years.
  • 1912 – Began the process of end softening of bearing pins. Supplied the chain for The Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster known more affectionately as “Big Ben” (built 1856).
  • 1913 – Gave the world an improved sprocket tooth profile that, with slight modification, the United States adopted as a standard profile. Designed and manufactured a fatigue test machine for the evaluation of chain fatigue strength.
  • 1914 – Designed and patented their flexible chain coupling – a product still in use worldwide.
  • 1915 – Manufacturing high-waisted chain plates and chains with straight-sided plates. Designed and manufactured running-in machine for their chain. Introduced stock drives that are taken for granted today.
  • 1916 – Supplying chains with case-hardened pins. 250px-British_Mark_V-star_TankPatented the segmental bush design of inverted tooth (silent) chain. Around 1916, The Coventry Chain Company Ltd. developed and manufactured track chains for use on tank vehicles. (From late 1914, a small number of middle-ranking British Army officers tried to persuade the War Office and the Government to consider the creation of armored vehicles. Amongst their suggestions was the use of caterpillar tractors, but although the Army used many such vehicles for towing heavy guns, it could not be persuaded that they could be adapted as armored vehicles. The consequence was that the Royal Navy carried out early tank development in Great Britain.)
  • 1917 – Still leading the world by having coned (i.e., tapered) bush bores in 1917. The first coning machine designed and manufactured in May 1900.
  • 1918 – Manufactured extra strong chains for use on motor cycles
  • 1922 – Designed and manufactured a bush-curling machine.
  • 1925 – The first acquisition of a major competitor with purchase of Brampton Brothers Limited, with its French manufacturing subsidiary at Calais. Operation merged with the manufacturing facility previously established in Coventry.
  • 1927 – To improve bush inner/plate security, patented the ‘keyed’ bush. This feature is still used today. Approved under the AID regulations to issue inspection certificates and likewise approved as an ARB inspection authority.
  • 1930 – Merger created Renold and Coventry Chain Co. Ltd.
  • 1932 – Chain now has chamfered plates some being double chamfered (i.e., both sides). Renold and Coventry Chain Co. Ltd patented the early design of bi-planar chain (applied for patent in 1928).
  • 1933 – Supplied chain with a notched bush.
  • 1943 – Hans Renold dies.

SOURCES:

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Park Tool – #1

Sequence:

 7/2/19 – Park Tool PFP-4 (floor pump) malfunctions

7/3 (4:34 AM) – Email Park tool: “When I use on a Schrader valve, air comes out of the presta valve opening. Thus, no inflation takes place. What part do I need?”

7/3 (9:31 AM) – Email from Park Tool (St. Paul is a bit behind time-zone wise): “Hi —– It sounds like an issue in the head of the pump. We will send a replacement head. Thanks. Dan”

7/3 (2:29 PM) – Email from Park Tool with shipping notice for 3-day delivery.

7/8 – Not only the new head but complete head and hose arrive.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7/11 – Switch head and hose – 30-45 seconds. Problem solved.

More …

Park Tool https://www.parktool.com/ offers a complete line of top-quality bicycle tools. Park Tool hosts a “fix it school” at – https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help where a search tool leads one to videos on all manner of bicycle service.

While the PFP-4 was laid up, the 1971 Schwinn pump came out of semi-retirement after continuous use from 1971-2007. This came from Klarsfeld Cycles – now CK Cycleshttps://ckcycles.com/ . Charles Klarsfeld, “CK,” founded the business in 1905.

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