As I mentioned in the previous post, here’s a quick review of the Victorian engineer’s classic ‘Bicycles & Tricycles’ by Archibald Sharp:
There are two distinct elements, on the one hand you’ve got a detailed mechanical engineering textbook, and on the other, a fascinating insight into the development of human powered vehicles and how they evolved into the classic designs we’re still using today.
Unless you’re really keen you’ll probably want to skip through the first third of the book where general engineering principles are introduced, including the basics of statics and dynamics. Part II is where is really hots up with a more general overview of the development of the bicycle with Part III dealing in more detail with individual elements of the frame, wheels and gears etc.
If you’ve ever wondered how to calculate the forces going through an individual chain link, or just how large a bump it will take to send you over the bars of your penny-farthing then this is your book 🙂
The other thing to note is how advanced the Victorians were – or perhaps how there’s nothing new under the sun! Suspension, hub gears, oval chainrings, disk wheels, tubeless tyres; they’re all covered in here. There are plenty of other whacky inventions featured too, some of which might have even worked (tandem penny-farthing anyone?).
If you’re a bike geek like me, especially if you have an interest in how things work, then you’ll probably be proud so show off your credentials with a copy of this on your coffee table. Don’t worry though, I won’t tell anyone if you want to skip over pages like this one…
…to get to more pages like this. I still can’t quite explain how epicyclic gears work mind…
As the book is now out of copyright you can read a scanned in copy here thanks to Google archive: http://archive.org/stream/bicyclestricycl03shargoog
You can buy the book here, although it’s a scanned in reprint of the original the quality is still pretty good: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bicycles-Tricycles-Classic-Treatise-Construction/dp/0486429873/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378884147&sr=1-1