Monday, August 29, 2011

Maxim Gun & Tricycle (1901)

Maxim Gun & Tricycle (1901)

From a Scientific American supplement article, 1901

The bicycle artillery corps is a body of recent creation which seems to be destined for a great future. In fact, it is now in a fair way of doing reconnoissance duty in place of the cavalry. How much superior, indeed, is a bicyclist to a horseman. He is always ready to start immediately, while the latter has to wait to harness and saddle his steed. Then, again, the bicycle is faster than the horse, and requires less care; and the fact that no food is needed constitutes an appreciable advantage in a campaign in which so many difficulties are met with in the way of procuring forage. It is true that the bicycle can be used only upon roads, but in France and Germany the byroads, large and small, are so accessible that the use of it is capable of being made general.
. . . . .
Such considerations have led the large English house of Vickers, Sons & Maxim to devise a machine gun tricycle, which we represent in the accompanying engravings. Two Maxim guns are mounted upon the tricycle, the weight of which is 120 pounds, while that of the two guns is 54, that of the tripods 106, that of the spare pieces 8, and that of the 1,000 cartridges, with their case, 86. This constitutes a total weight of 374 pounds, to which is to be added that of the two men who ride the vehicle. It seems that such a tricycle is capable of running at a high rate of speed upon a level. Upon up-grades, however, it is necessary to dismount and push the machine.

Maxim Gun & Tricycle (1901)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Better Kickstarter Bicycle Product Proposal

In two earlier posts, I looked at three other Kickstarter proposals for new bicycle products. Most recently, I looked at a proposal for a self-inflating bike tire that I thought was silly - are people that lazy that they need this produce?? (Also, they are trying to raise $250,000 - WOW.)

Before that I looked at two safety-related bicycle add-ons both based on the "biking is dangerous - let's make it safer" way of thinking about cycling.

There is also a proposal for Flipphandle, a product that simplifies bicycle storage by making it easy ("at the push of a button") to turn the handlebars 90 degrees from center so that they line up with the bike frame.

I like this idea a lot, although I have a few problems with its presentation in Kickstarter. For one thing, the video and photos always show a straight handlebar bike, which would be the kind that presumably benefits the most from this device. But what about bikes with "traditional" handlebars? It would seem that they would benefit somewhat too, but the Kickstarter come-on should either show the produce with this kind of handlebars or clarify that the product is only aimed at part of the bicycle market, those with straight handlebars. (My assumption is that the drop-handlebar crowd would not want be interested in this feature even if there was some small benefit.)

Really though I wonder about the audience for this - do they expect to sell this through bike stores and the Internet as an aftermarket product? Because I don't have a sense that most people invest like that in their bikes. What would be great is if a bike company with "urban" bikes with straight bars would add this to a bike or bikes they sell, if only as an option.

In the Flipphandle comments it says that they are looking to develop folding pedals as well. This makes a lot of sense as a tie-in with the folding handlebars if you are thinking of this more as a solution for walking a bike in tight situations and less as a solution for storage. For one thing, anyone who walks her or his bike much, particularly with standard platform pedals, has had the unpleasant experience of banging some part of a leg against a pedal, which considering the design of many such pedals can be painful. A bike with folding handlebars and folding pedals would be much easier to maneuver in a subway car as shown in the video than one with just folding handlebars.

For whatever reason, they don't seem to have much chance of raising the necessary money at the rate they are going. And I certainly don't need one - I have three bikes with drop handlebars and one mountain bike used 3-5 times a year to ride in snow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Kickstarter Bicycle Improvement Possibilities

Kickstarter is "the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world" (they say) and it turns out, some of these opportunities are for new products to make cycling safer or easier (and hopefully more popular). In a previous post I looked at a couple of modestly scaled money raising endeavors for safety lighting proposals. Thanks to tire that inflates itself as you ride. They only need $250,000 (yes, a quarter of a million dollars) to get this under production!

It's a clever idea - there is a small tube that runs around the entire tire right in the middle of where the tire contacts the ground and as the bike compresses this tube, air if forced through the valve into the tire until some previously set limit is reached, then it stops. If the pressure goes down, it pumps it back up.

Of course there are many clever ideas that are patented that don't enjoy commercial success for one reason or another. What about this idea?

The problem that the inventor is trying to solve is simple enough - bike riders should be able to jump on their bikes and ride off knowing that the tire will soon be inflated to the right pressure if some air has escaped since the last time the bike was used. It is not an anti-flat system that would say pump the tire up fast enough to keep ahead of a lead created by a nail (for example). It also solves the problem of having your tires always at a consistend pressure as you ride since I don't think anyone has ever argued that the small amount that this happens is actually a problem for anyone. Therefore your user is the person who is tired of pumping air in her or his bike tires once in a while before riding.

Are their many such people, really? One wonders. For one thing, while it is not a good thing, many people who ride even relatively frequently (for Americans) are rather lax about their tire pressure, based on conversations I have had. Those people who do care about it, it seems to me, are not likely to feel a desire to turn this activity over to an automatic system to do it for them.

Efforts to keep air in the tires or avoid having flats have been proposed (and patented) since the development of the safety bike in the 1880s, so attempts to simplify cycling by reducing interactions with tires are not new. For example, below is an 1896 patent for a "self sealing" bike tire.

Self Sealing Bike Tire Patent (1895)
Patent 551,408, the self sealing tire

Why didn't the self sealing tire succeed? Well, because it was a layer of complexity and cost on top of what is the best thing about bicycles - that they are pretty simple devices. And also that they introduced a new failure "opportunity" rather than just getting rid of the old one. And of course you have to pay more for it.

This particular idea is quite elegant (in a way) but the Kickstarter proposal fails to suggest what the price point is that they have in mind for these fancy tires that inflate themselves. While in theory anyone would say, "sure I want a tire that keeps itself at the right air pressure" I suspect when they see the relative cost they will wonder if operating the pump occasionally is really that inconvenient (for that portion of the cycling public who care about their tire inflatiion situation other than when the tire is more or less flat). That, in the end, is the issue - are people (Americans - I assume a Dutchman for example would guffaw if he saw this product) so lazy that they will pay $$$ more for a high priced tire rather than fill it with air occasionally themselves? The product developers don't argue that it is a safety issue, unlike that yellow light in your Ford Explorer so you don't tip the thing over with underinflated tires.

And I'm pretty sure, notwithstanding their remarks in the FAQ, that this approach does introduce new problems to manage. They claim that a "little filter" will keep dust and dirt from interfering with the intake of air to inflate the tire, but given where it is (down practically on the ground) and the small sizes, presumably then the issue is the "little filter" getting a lot clogged. Also, as shown in its development phase, this pressure gauge limiter thing that rides on top of the inner tube valve looks like trouble with a capital "T". They admit in their FAQ that in production this thing would ideally be a lot smaller and perhaps not angled straight out from the rim but rather along the rim somehow, or supported by a spoke. Well - yeah. Because a weak point in every inner tube is at the valve, so putting that big monster thing on top of the valve is begging for trouble. They don't need just their own tire, I think, but their own wheel-tire combo.

Finally, the tube (they call it a "lumen" which apparently is a biology term for a tube-like structure) that is compressed as the wheel turns and does the pumping runs on the outer center of the tire where the greatest wear is on any bike tire. However thick the wall of that lumen (tube) is is how long your tire lasts. If you get a little cut through that lumen - well, so much for the self inflating feature and the tire is ruined (which they admit in their FAQ). So, for a given style of tire, this self inflating tire costs more but lasts a shorter period of time and has a risk factor for the failure of the feature that you paid extra for.

Industry statistics don't say how many bicycle tires are sold, but presumably the best result for the inventors would be to get a nice urban bike equipped with these tires as standard equipment. Perhaps they'll get lucky.

Anything that makes riding a bike easier can be considered, if you are in the cycling camp, to be good for society (more green, more exercise, etc.). This is something that replaces one small inoffensive task (that many are a bit inattentive to, but with few serious consequences) with unnecessary complexity and cost, and then claims to be easier. I guess it depends how you define "easier."

That's enough Kickstarter bike projects for today.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Knack Cycling for Everyone - Book Review

Cycling for Everyone - A Guide to Road, Mountain, and Commuter Biking by Leah Garcia and Jilayne Lovejoy (Knack, 2010) is lovely to look through and reflects considerable effort, but I'm not sure that it is "the ideal new resource for anyone looking to get introduced, or reintroduced, to today's world of cycling" (as it says on the rear cover).

Amazon has a "look inside" link for its page for this book so you can get a fairly good sense of what the book is like.

What's good:

* More than 400 photographs - it must have been a major effort just to figure out and produce all of these; it's a fun book to page through.

* Certainly introduces at a high level many issues connected to cycling.

* Presents some topics quite well when the book's format (that seems to be part of the Knack series) provides the right amount of space.

What's not-so-good:

* Typically one photo is all that is provided for any particular issue, even for the description of maintenance activities where a sequence would be more helpful. In this regard, the extremely structured format of the book works against it.

* The highly structured format for each page also means that there can't be much detail written about any particular subject - for the most part each subject is dealt with in two facing pages.

* Despite being an introduction to the subject, it often reads as though you already know something about the subject - in the summary of what makes a road bike a road bike, it says "uses 700c wheels, caliper brakes, and skinny smooth tires" - skinny smooth tires is clear, anyway.

* Doesn't answer many "why" questions. Again, due to the limited space for text, much of what is provided are descriptions without explanation.

* The glossary is too short and misses many terms used in the text without explanation, and is the one part of the book with no images. In the text one is told to avoid potholes to avoid getting "pinchflats" which are just one item not in the glossary (or the index, for that matter).

I concluded that there is far more to cycling than I had realized since it doesn't turn out to be possible to provide anything like a comprehensive introductory guide to the different types of cycling (mountain, road, commuting) in a single book.

I was somewhat amused by the subjects where the authors chose to provide additional information - since they live in Colorado, they are quite a bit more into mountain biking than commuting by bike so unlike most subjects that must be dealt with in two pages, you get "terrain tips - part 1" and "terrain tips - part 2" (or four pages!) on handling rough riding on a mountain bike. (The coverage of bike commuting in this book is weak, when you get down to it.)

And they are pretty much satisfied with the modern buy-lots-of-crap-and-keep-corporations-afloat approach to cycling - this is most noticable in their discussion of winter clothing, where wool sweaters you might already own are not mentioned - the models are attired in hundreds of dollars of special cycling clothing. (Don't get me wrong, I happen to take that approach too, but I'm pretty sure it isn't the most cost effective and I sure didn't start that way.) I think this reflects a lack of enthusiasm for true beginning bike commuters - mountain biking is more fun.

Summary - it's a pretty book to look at, and has it's tidbits of useful info here and there. It isn't a particularly useful comprehensive introduction.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1899 "Book on Wheeling" & Tandem Photographs

Neesen Title Page
Title page of Dr. Neesen's Book on Wheeling

Dr. Neesen's Book on Wheeling is a rather extreme (and late, since the cycling craze was ending by this time) example of the "physician as guide to all-things-cycling" approach to cycling advice. Note his particular qualifications as a specialist in women's medicine:
Assistant to the Chair of Gynecology, Long Island College
Hospital ; Member Women's Hospital Society ; Kings Co. Medical Society, Long Island Medical Society, Kings Co. Medical Association ; Lately House Surgeon at the Woman's Hospital in the State of New York ; Recently House Surgeon at Prof. Martin's Privat-Anstalt in Berlin ; Member Physical Education Society of New York.
He includes some interesting photographs of men and women cyclists in his book - here are those of tandems and riders. I have included the original captions, which in keeping with his rather directive sort of advice, usually find some fault with the models' posture.

Diamond Frame Tandem

Above is the only photograph in the book of this particular tandem - although the front rider is a woman, the frame has a continuous top tube rather than a step-through portion for the woman rider, which could be either the front section or the rear. (This author takes the slightly radical position that women, properly attired, should be fine riding a "diamond frame wheel.")

"Combination" Tandem

Above is the first of two photos of this tandem that has a step-through frame section in front. Note that this tandem (and the preceding) have the ability for the back cyclist to steer also - how this worked in practice, one can only wonder. It certainly negated some of the advantage in the normal tandem arrangement, where the "stoker" in the rear can focus all if his (or her) energy on pedaling. Presumably the assumption was that the man could easily see over the woman in front, but it doesn't look that way here. Many tandems at the time had the step-through portion in the rear, in which case the rear rider could not steer (at least not in examples I've seen). There was an apparent tension between the version that was more socially acceptable (woman in front) versus what was easier to engineer (man in front).

Women on Tandem

To ride a "diamond frame wheel" Dr. Neesen advises wearing a short divided skirt, but apparently this is too short.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Increased Visibility, Increased Safety?

Project Aura: Bicycle Safety Lighting System from Project AURA on Vimeo.

Project Aura is a clever idea to increase the visibility of cyclists at night, particularly from the side. Since the system is driven by the wheels spinning, they added in a feature that the lighting changes from white to red when the bike slows down, something like a brake light on a car, although not facing to the rear.

As can be seen from the video, it's a dramatic lighting system. In order to focus attention on the Aura system, the video of the bike at night includes no headlight and no rear reflector, although their Vimeo page notes that "By law (in Pennsylvania, the laws vary state by state) a front headlamp and rear reflector are required, use of a rear blinky is up to the rider's discretion."

I have two problems with this thing - first, when you look at Aura's other information, it is clear that this isn't a particularly simple system - having a spinning light system attached to both wheels for a typical cyclist would be a big pain to maintain, adding needless weight and maintenance issues (not to mention cost) to what is, in the end, the delightful simplicity of a typical bike. Moreover there can be too much of a good thing - making the bike this visible by jazzing it up like this could be a traffic distraction. For motor vehicles there are laws about such things - you have to have certain lights, but you can't bolt lights of any color and type all over your car. It does seem wise to have your bike highly visible at night from the sides; the easiest way to achieve this seems to be to wear something visible and reflectorized on your upper body.

MonkeyLectric from Jade Ajani on Vimeo.

Apparently there are 'arty' spoke lighting systems with a focus more on misguided bike bling than safety.

All of that is better than a home lighting system that is "pendant lights . . . constructed with spokes and hubs remaining from the destruction of bike rims." I guess if you don't stay out of accidents with good lighting, your ride can become a lighting system itself. Weird.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carbon vs Steel for Bike to Cross USA

Bruce Weber, a journalist for the NY Times, is at age 57 "recreating" an earlier cross country bike trip and is writing a serious of articles (and blog entries, and tweets, and ... and ...) about it. Also, given the nature of things, there is an "interactive" map that charts his progress.

To summarize his article in the Sunday NY Times today - it's been hard going so far. For better or worse, now many people can offer advice that is shared with all of us. The NY Times featured seven "emblematic" comments from the hundreds made so far, one of which suggests that it's his steel bike that's the problem.
I ride a lot. My best road bike cost $14,000 (custom full-carbon). I think you’re underserved by a steel bike. But then, I’m old (75), though I do log 5,000 miles per year cycling, in the U.S. and Europe.
The suggestion seems to be that an expensive carbon fiber frame bike would be better for this activity than the (presumed not expensive) steel frame bike. I do not believe that it is necessary to spend anything like that much money on a bike suitable for this and I strongly believe most carbon fiber bikes would be a poor choice for what Mr. Weber is doing.

Detroit Lake 300K August 2, 2008 002
A steel randonneuring bike, based on a 1982 steel bike frame

Looking at the second issue first - I wonder if the writer understands what Mr. Weber is doing. If you are on a supported ride, when your baggage is carried by a support team in motor vehicles (and all the meals arranged in advance, and so on) then riding a carbon fiber road bike would be great. Here however the rider is carrying everything with him in panniers, and the traditional (and seemingly reasonable) approach to that is to ride a randonneuring or touring bicycle, made of steel. You sacrifice some weight for the cycle in favor of strength as well as a bicycle geometry more suitable for hauling weight long distances reliably and comfortably over pure speed. It's simple, really - touring bikes are made of steel. And this is a touring bike situation.

As to cost, that's a different matter - certainly one can spend thousands (even more than $15,000 for one custom built by a builder who produces them one at a time) on a high-end steel touring bike - I would chose something like this Co-Motion steel touring bike (at around $3,500). The example in the photograph (that could have a rack and panniers added easily enough) is based on a steel frame exactly like one I bought on eBay for $117 (including shipping!) that one could then kit out in a suitable way for another thousand dollars or so. I tend to think that Mr. Carbon-Fiber-is-Best is partially correct that for a bike to ride across America, Mr. Weber has underspent in dollars and is paying for it otherwise. And eventually will pay for various fixes such that it would have been less expensive to buy a more expensive - and suitable - bike right at the start. He has already replaced the cassette with one that has cogs more suitable for climbing hills at slow speed, for example. Many other components on a lesser bike will have a predictable service life less than the distance represented by a cross country ride.

I have not been able to work out exactly what sort of bike Mr. Weber is riding - the photos seem (purposely?) to obscure that information. The type of bike, however, is obvious enough - it is the kind of "not a mountain bike, not a road bike, but what is it bike" that one sees around town often enough. Riding across the country seems like an activity for a purpose-built bicycle.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bob Roll's "Two" Books

Roll on a Murray
Bob Roll in his days with the 7-Eleven team

Lately I have given up Swedish detective novels (of which there seems to be a never-ending supply) in favor of cycling books of various sorts, from "policy tomes" (think Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities) to cycling travel narratives (now I'm reading Take a Seat: One Man, One Tandem and Twenty Thousand Miles of Possibilities and also the occasional book about professional cycle racing.

Which brings me to Bob Roll, and his "two" books. Bob Roll has been a cycle racing commentator for OLN and more recently Versus for the Tour de France following his racing career, but his first sports journalism efforts were writing for Velonews.

I work in a very large library in Washington DC. We don't have everything, but we have quite a lot (of books, anyway). Given Roll's performances for "Road-ID" ads (you can watch the regular ads on the Road-ID channel on YouTube, although you get the best sense of Bob during the first third of this "outtakes" collection video. He even talks about his books, saying, "I am an author - although the books aren't that good." He was joking.

So it seems plausible that a book by Bob Roll could be pretty funny. And, according to the very large database at the library where I work, Bob has written two "memoir" type books of his racing career! (Leaving aside two books he has co-written that are "how to understand the Tour de France" guides.) Fantastic!

Bobke One book record
The "bibliographic record" that describes Bob Roll's first book, from the very large database of such things

So, above is the description of Bob's first book, published in 1995 - 124 pages of Bob. It's a fun book, in a large paperback format with quite a few photos of Bob being amusing, or sometimes just racing his bike (without being amusing). Most of the text is taken from stuff he wrote for Velonews and is in the form of cycling race diary entries (he was writing while still racing at that point). It's a little random in spots.
Lourdes is a bizarre place. It's a sort of Kmart for Catholics, and provided a weird takeoff point for this final mountain stage.
And like that. So a little random.

Nevertheless, if in the right frame of mind, Bobke I (as I think of it) is a good (and quick) read.

Bobke II book record
The "bibliographic record" that describes Bob Roll's "second" book, from the very large database

Why do I put "second" in quotes?? Because once I got my hands on the "second" book and started reading, I thought, "wait a second, I read this book already!" And I had, mostly. The first two thirds of Bobke II is the same as Bobke I, except that it is now in a smaller paperback format (with more pages, yeah) and no photographs (boo! on taking out the photographs). And in fact, on the verso (that's "back side" for non-librarians) of the title page it says, "Part I [of Bobke II] was previously published as Bobke (VeloPress, 1995)." So, what one gets that is new in Bobke II is "Part II (of Bobke II)" and that amounts to about 65 pages. To paraphrase Bob, "ouch!"

Still, there is some good stuff in those 65 pages. There is a description of Bob's training rides in North Carolina with Lance Armstrong and there is probably the most amusing article-length first person description of a professional road race that I have ever read anywhere, although I may be heavily influenced by the central role of the Russian "Team Lada" cycle team in it. (I have some college degrees in Russian studies. Oh - and somewhat oddly, the full text of this story is online.)

I assume the reason that the publisher decided they could get away with this is that the number of copies of Bobke I printed and sold was tiny - at that time, the only reason anyone would know who Bob Roll was would be from being a bike racing nut (remember, 1995 was before Lance Armstrong won any Tours) and (or maybe or) reading Velonews. This isn't a huge market. By the time of Bobke II, in 2003, Bob had already put in several years as a TV commentator and although the audience was still skewed to people who were interested in cycling, thanks to Lance this was much larger market - so for the three people who accidentally bought Bobke II who already had Bobke I; well, they should be more careful.

I feel some affinity for Bob Roll, although for no good reason I suppose. Bob has a gap-toothed smile and I have a gap-toothed smile. Parked in that gap-toothed smile Bob has a tooth that (from the color) I would guess has a dead nerve and guess what, so do I. Bob thinks he's pretty funny and I would like to think I'm funny (but I concede wacky crazy funny to Bob). And Bob is a former professional bicycle racer and I like to sit on a bicycle from time to time and pedal to and from work.

At any rate, I hope I have cleared up the "two Bob Roll memoirs" situation sufficiently.

If after all this, you are still interested in some further amusement, I offer a link to a 1987 video from the 7 Eleven Cycling Team that I came upon while doing "research" for this blog post.

Springer watches 7 Eleven team
At 2:18 during this very dated video there are a couple of seconds of this Springer, attentively watching the bicycle race. This would be Springer with different interests than the one in our house.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Annual Dillons Bus Photo Op

Dillons bus splits lane
Dillons bus driver demonstrating his "split the lane" right turn technique

This is just lazy driving, in my view. But I only drove a city bus for 12 years so what do I know.

Anyway, as with a year ago when I saw some less than excellent driving from these people, I took a photo and then I wrote an email:
This was taken with a cell phone camera, so the quality is not terribly good. This is proceeding west in Independence Ave SW, just approaching the intersection at 7th SW. This would have been around 4:30-4:40? Today. I don't wear a watch.

This is a common practice with Dillons buses making this turn - splitting the two right lanes. Here you have a photograph illustrating what I see often enough. It's just sloppy and dangerous - and completely unnecessary! This bus is turning into three lanes, so if the bus was entirely in the right lane on Independence it would be no problem to swing around the corner even if the nearest southbound lane has a vehicle in it. The bus ain't that long.

The only reason for this approach is to make it simpler to intimidate pedestrians by having four-five feet to turn in the direction of the crosswalk to the right without actually going into the crosswalk. I grant you, waiting until the crosswalk clears if the bus stays patiently in the right lane, where it belongs, isn't much fun - but what this driver is doing is putting the problem in the lap of everyone in two lanes behind the bus. Do you want your buses sideswiped? This is asking for it.

I was on a bicycle, by the way, and had plenty of room to ride right by (on the left) and from my personal perspective this is great since he blocked traffic and I got on down the road. But otherwise it's awful.

Stupid bus driver
The last time I took a picture of a Dillons bus - the "open the door with a full lane open to the right so the passengers can get run over" technique

Friday, August 5, 2011

Little Lost CaBi Bike

Cabi Bike One
Unlocked, in front of the U.S. Botanic Garden, middle of the day

I went for a mid-day run and below the Capitol (in Washington DC) this CaBi bikeshare bike was sitting like this, unlocked, in front of the U.S. Botanic Garden. No one around seemed connected with it. CaBi bikes don't come with locks - the idea is you ride from one docking station to another, so why do you need a lock? On the other hand, if someone makes off with one charged to a particular account, there is a 1,000 dollar charge.

Cabi Bike Two
Still here twenty minutes or so later, but someone stood it up anyway

When I was heading back, it was still here. That someone had stood the thing up led me to think it really was here unattended. It now had some tourist brochures shoved in behind the seatpost. My guess would be that someone found it improperly docked (not locked in) and took it for a little joy ride. I called CaBi (their number is on the bike) and they were going to send someone to investigate - nobody around paid the slightest attention to my interest in this bike - if someone had really left it like this, out of their sight, the person was being a bit lax.

A problem for CaBi would be that this area is restricted for delivery sorts of trucks, like the one CaBi uses to ferry bikes around. Someone would have to walk a few blocks.

Later in the day when I went home it was gone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Springs, Not Air, for Bike Tires (1896 Patents)

For whatever reason, in December of 1896, more than one clever (or not so clever) inventor decided that they could make their fortune with a tire that required no air (or at least was only optionally inflatable). All three of the patent applications below were made with one month ~

Patent 573907
Patent number 573,907

The patent above is straightforward in intent:
This invention relates to tires, being especially designed for use upon bicycles and other vehicles, and the object in view is to provide a mechanical tire resembling in action a cushion or pneumatic tire, the elasticity being obtained through the medium of a series of springs disposed around the wheel-rim and incased within a suitable sheath or cover, thus dispensing with the necessity for a pneumatic tire and avoiding the disadvantages of frequent puncturing and repair incident to the use of pneumatic tires.
The design is simple enough - one wonders if the inventor built a prototype that worked. Why are we still riding around on tires filled with troublesome air?

Patent 573920 (part a)

Patent number 573,920, part a

The next submission to the Patent Office seems to have decided a more complex approach was called for - in fact, he patented two separate spring systems as possible ways to solve the problem. (See above, and below.)

Patent 573920 (part b)

Patent number 573,920, part b

Just before 1896 ended, we have the submission below - the simplest approach yet. The inventor takes a more middle of the road approach - air is optional, not required:
If preferred, my improved tire may be used without being inflated, the spring D serving to maintain the tire in its proper position and to give elasticity thereto; but said tire may also be inflated with air in the usual manner, if desired, and by the usual means, and in this event both the air and the spring serves to give elasticity to the tire and to maintain it in the proper form.

Patent 574015
Patent number 574,015

Alas, 115 years on, we are still riding around on tires that get punctures.