THE PNEUMATIC AND OTHER TYRES
The title of this chapter places the pneumatic tyre first, but before we begin to read how the pneumatic tyre revolutionized the cycle industry and made it what it is to-day, this book would be incomplete without a few remarks on the trials, tribulations and sufferings of those who rode bicycles with solid and cushion rubber tyres and still survive.
As we have seen in Chapter I, the first velocipedes had wheels shod with steel tyres; fortunately for their riders, the saddle was on a long spring, otherwise words fail to explain what they would have suffered.
The next innovation in the way of a non-slipping, elastic tread was to fasten strips of leather to wood felloes. Naturally, leather proved comparatively unyielding and india-rubber was tried. At first it was fastened like the leather in strips, then came the day of wire spoked wheels and solid india-rubber tyres fastened in V or U-shaped steel rims.
The common practice was to cement an endless band of circular rubber to the steel rim with a composition called "packwack," still used to attach perambulator tyres to their wheels. Naturally, the tyres refused to remain in place for long, particularly when wrenched against early-day tram lines, etc. Arrangements to overcome this trouble of the tyres coming out of the rim were patented, notably Hookham's patent wired tyre. A crimped or corrugated wire was inserted in the centre of the rubber tyre and held it in the groove of the steel U-shaped rim by contraction. Tyres in sections were