Page:The Cycle Industry (1921).djvu/129

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CHAPTER XX

THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY

To write of the future one becomes a kind of prophet, and the forecasting of events is a dangerous thing to undertake. However, this being the final chapter of my book on the cycle industry, I will risk it on the assumption that if I prophesy what does not materialize, I shall not be alone in having stated what did not subsequently prove true.

The cycle industry of the future is assured, because no matter what happens there always must be a big demand for the cheapest form of locomotion known. Aye, even cheaper than walking. Is not leather more costly than rubber and does not a bicycle tyre cover outlast several boot soles, besides being a quicker means of getting about, either for work or pleasure?

We can therefore safely assume that bicycles will always be with us, because if a very cheap form of power were ultimately devised for propelling a bicycle on present motor cycle lines, no machine so fitted could be produced and sold at the cost of a bicycle that is propelled by human power.

The industry, however, may not remain on its present lines. Like the gun trade and some other industries it may ultimately become so sub-divided that no manufacturer will be able to afford to make a complete bicycle on his own premises. Taking the gun trade as an example, Birmingham is or was, before the war, the centre of the gun making industry. Gun makers date back centuries, whereas cycle makers have hardly attained their fiftieth year. Now the gun trade is so sub-divided that, apart from a few notable examples, a gun assembler can buy every part of a gun from specialists, and the price of the finished article depends

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