Dies of this description are very expensive, but when their cost is spread over thousands of parts and the reduced amount of machining is taken into account, then they become remunerative. While the design of bicycles was changing from year to year, the cost of such tools for mass production was almost prohibitive, but the stagnation in pattern has permitted their use to-day with the result that thousands of bicycles are produced, if not wholly, partly from pressings.
Labour has undergone a vast change in the cycle industry during thirty years. About 1890 female labour in the cycle trade was rather rare. A few Midland firms, specializing in parts, employed women and girls in some departments, but on the whole bicycle processes were chiefly done by men and youths. Nowadays there are few large factories where girls and women are not found in practically every department. There are female polishers, enamellers, wheel builders, press minders, platers, in fact every process, with the exception of the skilled mechanical work, can be and is done by women, and well done, too.
The above is a rough outline of what constitutes mass production, as apart from the small makers' efforts, which are on different lines.
The small maker depends very largely on components makers for his output. He buys a frame from one place, or the tubes and lugs ready to build the frame, the wheels complete, minus tyres, come from another specialist; handlebars and seat pillars from another, and so on. The work in the factory consists largely of polishing, enamelling, plating, and assembling, or as it is more often described in the trade, finishing. Such a factory does not require a plant of machine tools, a designing and progress staff, or much of the organizing ability referred to above. The drawback