Cycles and their Maintenance.

A cycle is of the right size for a rider if, when a heel is placed on a pedal in its lowest position,with the leg fully extended, an inch or so of saddle pillar projects from the saddle tube.

A three-speed goar, though it adds considerably to the cost of a cycle, is well worth the extra money. It makes riding more pleasant and less laborious in undulating and hilly country, and in windy weather.

Either brake should be capable of pulling up the machine quickly, when used alone. Transmission from brake levers to brakes should be by rods, not cables, which are subject to rusting and therefore unreliable.

The front mudguard should project some inches beyond the front fork. Chain-cases must be well fitted to avoid rattle. It is important that the saddle should be a thoroughly comfortable one, especially if the machine is ridden long distances. The saddle wallet should be large enough to accommodate a repair outfit and cleaning rag as well as the tool kit – the items of which should be preserved carefully – and oil-can.

The fielf-contained electric lamp, weighing about 1 pounds, is the most handy form for town use or for touring in the long days. One with a carrying handle is to be preferred. Acetylene lamps should be kept charged with carbide, and water should not be poured into the reservoir till the lamp is likely to be needed. A pricker for the burner should be carried.

Table of Contents

Care of Cycles

Mud is most easily cleaned off while wet. Polishing with a rag moistened in french polish or paraffin oil may be done later.

Painting over bare places on the frame from which the enamel has chipped away retards peeling round them. If handlebars, cranks, rods, etc., lose their plating, rub thorn as smooth as possible with emery cloth, and paint them with one of the cellulose enamels sold for the purpose. The same covering is recommended if a bicycle needs smartening up generally.

To make a neat job, the old enamel, if in bad condition, should be scraped off all over before the new enamel is applied. When cellulose enamel is laid over old enamel, varnish, or paint, it should be preceded by the special under-coating supplied by the makers of the enamel.


The hub, crank, pedal, and front fork bearings should be oiled occasionally through the caps or holes provided. Proper lubrication lengthens the life of these parts. The chain, which has many exposed frictional parts, needs special attention, as both it and the teeth over which it runs will wear much more quickly if left dry and gritty.

To clean and oil a chain very thoroughly first brush it all over with an old toothbrush, to get rid of all loose dirt. Then move it until the screw rivet is on the large sprocket. Take chain off, put rivet and lock-nut back in place, and lay the coiled chain in a pan of paraffin oil.

After it has soaked well, rub it with an old rag, and dry it in the oven. It should now be fairly free from grit. To get oil in between rollers and the link rivets on which they turn, immerse the chain in oil. Wipe off surplus oil and replace chain on cycle.

Ordinary lubrication of the.chain can be done quickly as follows: Turn the chain backwards while a brush is held up against it, to clean it. Then hold a can so that the oil dropB first on one end and then on the other, of the rollers. Keep turning the pedals till the oil has worked well in; then wipe the chain. A little graphite grease smeared on the rollers will reduce friction between them and the chain wheels.

When using the oil-can be careful not to let oil fall on the rims or tyres, since oil is very destructive of rubber. Any oil which should fall on them must be wiped off at once.

Chain Adjustment

When properly adjusted, a chain will just not be taut at any point of a revolution of the big chain-wheel. It cannot then be unduly strained, nor can it get out of place on the teeth. If the large chain wheel is un-symmetrical or badly centred, the slack in the chain will vary with different positions of the cranks, and the only thing to be done is to make sure that some slack is left in all positions.

To adjust the chain, first slacken the nuts on the ends of the rear hub spindle. The spindle may then be drawn backwards in the forks by turning in a clockwise direction – as viewed from the back of the machine – the nuts on the ends of drawbolts encircling the spindle and projecting through bridge-pieces on the tips of the forks. Screw them up alternately a little at a time, taking care to keep the wheel central in the forks, until the chain is tightened sufficiently.

Should the tightening have been over-6 done, unsorew the nuts a little and tap the spindle nuts with a hammer, to ehift the spindle forward a trifle. Tighten up spindle nuts, and tighten the adjusting nuts against the bridge-pieces.

Just one caution. Adjusting a chain, by moving the wheel, alters the distance between the rim of the wheel and the brake blocks, and some readjustment of the brake may be needed.


Tyres will last longer if kept well inflated, so that they shall not flatten out too much, or bump, under the weight of the rider. Slack tyres mean harder work in pedalling. The back tyie has to carry more weight than the front one, and should be blown up harder – though not so hard that a bulge is not formed wh ? the rider throws his weight on to the saddle.

A leaky valve is a great nuisance, and its rubber sleeve should be replaced if a moistened finger rubbed across the tip of the valve causes a bubble to form. Losing the little screw-on cap aggravates leakage, for if the cap is in place it may arrest air which has got past the sleeve. So inflation will be less frequently required if the caps are always replaced after renewal.

To get at the sleeve, the removable part of the valve, called the plug, must be extracted after the milled metal sleeve which presses it into the body of the valve has been unscrewed. As the rubber sleeve will probably have stuck to both parts, between which it is pinched to make an airtight joint, getting the plug out will most probably break the sleeve and leave bits of it adhering to the seating in the body.

These must be detached before the re-sleeved plug is replaced, and the job is most easily done with a large pin, the tip of which has been turned over to form a very small hook. (This should be carried in the repair outfit box.) The plug is then scraped clean, and examined to Bee that the air passage through it is clear. Should this be even partly blocked -with dirt, inflation will be much harder work.

A new sleeve is then worked over the plug, until the top end has passed just beyond the swell. Make sure that the rubber is not wrinkled at any point. Dip the sleeve in french chalk and replace the plug, making sure that the little lugs projecting from it are in line with the slots, in the tip of the body. Screw the metal sleeve down tightly, and, if the locking nut which draws the body up against the inside of the- rim is loose, tighten that also. If this is left loose, the cover may creep and the inner tube be lorn away from the valve.

When a cycle is stored away for a long period, it should either be hung clear of the ground, or turned upside down on to handlebar and saddle, to take all weight off the tyres.

Mending Punctures

If a tyre deflates slowly, the valve may be at fault, and this should be tested. But if it flattens suddenly, a puncture is probably the cause. Examine the cover and, if a projecting nail or thorn is found, do not extract this till the place has been marked with pencil or a piece of stamp paper, to assist locating the puncture in the tube.

A rear tube must be taken out on the side away from the chain. Aa beaded-edge tyres have a wide internal flap on one edge and a narrow one (meant to come off first) on the other, the cover .should have been arranged with the narrow flap on that side: and to avoid confusion both covers should be removable on the left side of the machine. Wired-on tyres – now more popular than the beaded edge – can be taken off either sido with equal facility.

The cycle having been turned upside down, the valve stein is stripped of collars, so that it may be drawn inwards through the rim, and the plug is removed. The cover is pushed inwards until free from the rim all round, and levered off, beginning at the valve and working in both directions. A wired-on cover, be it noted, will not give enough slack unless the cover be pushed into the centre lino of the rim at the point farthest from the lifter: whereas a beaded edge comes off as soon as unhooked from the rim.

Extract the valve and pull the tubo out. It must be passed very carefully between brake block and rim, or it may be torn. Inflate tube and listen for escaping air. If the leak cannot be found, immerse the tube in water, when air-bubbles will soon reveal the puncture.

Clean an area an inch across round the puncture with glass paper or petrol till it is dark all over; and smear it thinly with rubber solution. Then solution one side of a patch in the repair outfit. When the solution on both is tacky, press the patch into place and hold it till it adheres firmly everywhere. It may then be left while fingers are run round the inside of the cover to search for possible thorns, and a little french chalk is rubbed into the canvas.

At the end of 15 minutes or so, french-chalk the patch and inflate the tyre to make sure that it is air-tight. If it is, deflate and work it back into place, beginning with the valve; and then inflate it slightly, so that it may not get pinched between the cover and rim. Work tyre on, beginning opposite the valve and finishing at it. The valve is pushed in, so that the foot shall get above the edges of the cover, and the tyre is inflated. Finish by screwing the locking collar on the valve hard against the rim.


These are the most important fittings of a bicycle. The riders life will often depend on their efficiency. As soon as the brake blocks wear thin they should be replaced, for if a shoe touches the rim it may cut it. And in any case the block in it will get no grip.

The operation of replacing the blocks is not a difficult one, but it will be done cheaply enough by any cycle dealer. Look over the brake gear occasionally – daily if touring in hilly country – and make sure that all nuts and screws in it are tight.

Cleaning and Adjusting Pedal Bearings

Spread a cloth under the pedal to catch anything that falls. Unscrew the cap on outside of pedal, and then the lock-nut on the pedal pin. Beyond this is a D-washer, unable to revolve on the spindle.

This has to be removed to allow the cono of the outer bearing to be screwed off. The balls of the bearing must be collected when they fall out and be set aside; and the same remark applies to the balls of the inner bearing. Any rusty or broken balls should be replaced by new.

Having cleaned the cones and the cups in the pedal, smear the cups thickly with vaseline, and embed the balls in it. They will then stick in place while the pedal is slipped over the pin and the cone screwed up. Replace washer and lock-nut, and adjust until the pedal will turn freely without any end-ways play when the lock-nut is tight. Replace the cap.

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