Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Kangaroo Cycle

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1885. Kangaroo.
1885. Kangaroo.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.
c1884. Kangaroo. Exhibit at the National Cycle Collection.

1878 Edward C. F. Otto & J. Wallis Patented a twin drive design which was never built. The design was for a reduced front wheel of 36" with pedal drive via chains to each side of the hub achieving a smoother drive and enable gearing of the drive.

1884 William Hillman Patent No.4487 was for an improved design. Produced by Hillman, Herbert and Cooper ~ the model was called the 'Kangaroo' ~ due it has been suggested to the long forward extending footrests. Other companies were quick to offer similar geared models, but as the name Kangaroo was registered with HH&C, their models were listed as 'Dwarf Ordinaries'. [1]

1884 Hillman, Herbert and Cooper exhibited the Kangaroo Cycle at the Stanley Show, in February 1884; this had a 38 inch front wheel with geared, chain drive and 20 inch back wheel [2]. Despite limited commercial success, the use of a chain drive stimulated other makers to revisit/develop a low mount cycle with chain drive of the rear wheel, producing a "safety" bicycle [3].

On 27th September, 1884, G. Smith covered 100 miles on the road, on one of these machines, in 7hrs 7mins 11secs, then the fastest time on record for any cycle.


How it works [4]

It has a small front wheel driven by cranks placed some distance below its centre and connected with it by chains. The fork is raked and continued downwards to support the divided crank-axle bearings; there is a chain on each side of the wheel. The centre of the wheel is in front of the fork, and the bearings slide along it to adjust the chains. The front wheel is 36 in. Diam. but is geared to 54 in. The cranks are slotted to allow the pedal pins to be adjusted from 4.25 in. to 6 in. radius. The machine weighs 36 lb.

The arrangement is superior to the ‘ordinary’ bicycle, since the speeds of the driving wheel and the crank axle may be arranged for the most efficient values, whilst in the ‘ordinary’ the length of the crank must be less, and the speed of the pedaling greater, than the best values. On the other hand, there being two independent chains, the pedal has to be raised by the ‘slack’ side of the chain, causing, unless kept carefully tightened, a shock twice per revolution, which threw a serious jar on the gear.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Tony P.
  2. Bartleet's Bicycle Book
  3. Bicycle: The History by David V. Herlihy, Yale University Press, 2006
  4. [1] Science Museum