What influenced the drive side choice?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
yostumpy
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What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby yostumpy » 10 Nov 2014, 12:50pm

basic historical question, to which I do not know, but would like to know the answer. Why was the RHS chosen for the drive side. Seeing as most things take years to standardise, this seems to have been adopted rather quickly. Is it

a) because they invented it on the continent, and a low level rear light would interfere with chain etc.

b) something to do with the bb threads,

C) just because

Any one know?

hexhome
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby hexhome » 10 Nov 2014, 12:58pm

Horses are always mounted from the left side?

Brucey
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Brucey » 10 Nov 2014, 1:00pm

I think it is because right hand screw threads are standardised and that is what you need to attach a sprocket to a hub on the RHS of a bike. The first safety bicycles did not (I think) have a freewheel BTW.

cheers
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Mick F
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Mick F » 10 Nov 2014, 1:26pm

I know some folk get on and off on the right, but it's usually from the left, and you don't want a nasty filthy oily chain marking your clothes.

It just so happens that RH threads are "normal", but for a factory producing bicycles, Left or Right wouldn't be a problem.
Mick F. Cornwall

pete75
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby pete75 » 10 Nov 2014, 1:41pm

yostumpy wrote:basic historical question, to which I do not know, but would like to know the answer. Why was the RHS chosen for the drive side. Seeing as most things take years to standardise, this seems to have been adopted rather quickly. Is it

a) because they invented it on the continent, and a low level rear light would interfere with chain etc.

b) something to do with the bb threads,

C) just because

Any one know?


Except the safety bicycle was invented in Coventry by John Starley. He sold them under the Rover brand and they were so synonymous with bicycles that in Poland all bikes are called rowery which I think is pronounced rovery.
Drive side choice because easier to use right hand threads and also mounted from the kerb i.e. left side in England. In the old days people had the seat higher and the traditional way to mount was to scoot with foot on left pedal and swing right leg over the saddle onto the pedal. This manoeuvre is easier from the left side for the majority of folk who are dextral. Presumably they thought putting the chain wheel and chain on the right made mounting easier and cleaner.

Stewart H
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Stewart H » 10 Nov 2014, 5:01pm

I thought it was all started by right handed people wearing their swords on the left and needing to mount their horses ? :D

sreten
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby sreten » 10 Nov 2014, 11:49pm

Brucey wrote:I think it is because right hand screw threads are standardised and that is what you need to attach a
sprocket to a hub on the RHS of a bike. The first safety bicycles did not (I think) have a freewheel BTW.
cheers


Hi,

I'm sure you are completely correct in all respects.
Freewheels were later than the safety* bicycle. As
are decent brakes, which the freewheel requires.

Its also ubiquitous in motorcycles for the same reason,
even when they go to shaft drive its on the right.

The more interesting question to me is the introduction
of left handed threads and was there a precedent before
bicycles for left handed threads due to precession ?

I'd guess you need a sewing machine expert to answer
that, of the human treadle powered variety.

However lets not forget the Italians and Scooters,
AFAIK Scooters are now nearly all left side drive,
with the exhaust on the right, from anywhere.

rgds, sreten.

* Sometimes I think the "ordinary" bicycle should
be really be renamed the "extraordinary dangerous",
and the safety bicycle for what it now is, "ordinary".

Brucey
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Brucey » 11 Nov 2014, 5:04am

sreten wrote: The more interesting question to me is the introduction
of left handed threads and was there a precedent before
bicycles for left handed threads due to precession ?

I'd guess you need a sewing machine expert to answer
that, of the human treadle powered variety....


I would imagine that left handed threads would have been required to counter precession effects in other machines than bicycles; think of all the reciprocating machines such as steam engines with cranks and levers etc. ; they surely must have encountered precession effects of this kind and could/would have solved them in a similar way.

Popularly the credit for handed pedal threads is given to the Wright brothers (mostly by American sources) but I have no idea if this is true or not. I'd imagine 'not' for a variety of reasons.

There is an article on cutting screw threads here;

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31756/31756-h/31756-h.htm

which interestingly almost completely ignores the one really obvious problem which is how to obtain the master screw thread to start with. Fundamentally it seems inherently difficult (to me) to create a screw thread that is more accurate than the machine that made it. Presumably there is some averaging over multiple cuts or some other feature concerning lever action which can improve the screw thread accuracy in stages, else we would not be where we are today.

I personally have no doubt that screw threads were cut by hand for centuries, and that the marking out would have been done by simply wrapping a cord around a plain (or tapered) shaft; anyone who had used a pole lathe would have spent all day looking at a 'screw thread action' of the cord wrapped around a shaft so cannot have entirely avoided seeing this feature. Further evidence for this comes in the examination of hand-cut woodscrews in furniture; they manifest inaccuracies of the exact sort that you can generate by being slightly inconsistent about winding cord onto a shaft (similar effects often plague my attempts to make a really neat job of winding handlebar tape, too... :roll: ).

I have a slight insight into manufacturing practice at the time the safety bicycle became commonplace, because amongst my collection of useless junk I have a small metalworking lathe which I discovered (having bought it on a whim because it 'looked interesting') was actually built in about 1890 and was originally treadle driven. It is a 'Pittler' machine of German manufacture. Serial numbers indicate that at least 10000 similar machines were constructed and it seems that such machines were commonplace enough in the UK that the word 'Pittlerie' was once common parlance for a sweat shop containing serried ranks of such machines. It is built in inch-dimensions, is entirely held together with Whitworth standard screws, has a leadscrew and comes with numerous change-wheels that allow cutting of inch-pitch screw threads. It is an incredibly versatile machine; cleverly it allows for cutting of left or right handed threads, tapered screw threads, and even the cutting of long pitch helices. Using such machines, every screw-threaded part on a bicycle could be manufactured, I think; no wonder bicycles were manufactured in many small towns around this time; a near-cutting edge manufacturing tool was a small machine that could be used almost anywhere.

I was intrigued by the use of inch-sized screws etc on this machine and did a little research. Arguably Germany's industrial output during WW1 was hampered by the lack of a widely accepted standardised system of engineering tolerances, screw threads etc; ostensibly similar parts made in different factories would often not interchange with others, where by contrast British-made equipment was to standardised designs and was largely interchangeable regardless of source. Germany implemented their first DIN standard for screw threads in 1914; it was a straight copy of the Whitworth standard, inch dimensions and all.

cheers
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simonineaston
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Nov 2014, 5:15am

Brucey wrote:I have a slight insight into manufacturing practice at the time the safety bicycle became commonplace, because amongst my collection of useless junk I have a small metalworking lathe which I discovered (having bought it on a whim because it 'looked interesting') was actually built in about 1890 and was originally treadle driven. It is a 'Pittler' machine of German manufacture...

Intersting! I see they're still at... http://pittler.dvs-gruppe.com/index.php?id=157&L=1
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

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simonineaston
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby simonineaston » 11 Nov 2014, 5:19am

Pittler fans, or those interested, should check out this page... http://www.lathes.co.uk/pittler/ :wink:
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Brucey
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Brucey » 11 Nov 2014, 5:54am

my own Pittler is (I think) a B2 model with the workings as per this machine;

Image

but mounted on a pedestal stand which has a solid base like this one;

Image

NB in case you are wondering, the above machine is a perfectly proportioned scale model!

When I first saw mine the pedestal reminded me of wacky furniture designs from the 1960s; it didn't occur to me for a moment that I was looking at something over a century old!

cheers
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pete75
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby pete75 » 11 Nov 2014, 6:27am

sreten wrote:
Brucey wrote:I think it is because right hand screw threads are standardised and that is what you need to attach a
sprocket to a hub on the RHS of a bike. The first safety bicycles did not (I think) have a freewheel BTW.
cheers


Hi,

I'm sure you are completely correct in all respects.
Freewheels were later than the safety* bicycle. As
are decent brakes, which the freewheel requires.

Its also ubiquitous in motorcycles for the same reason,
even when they go to shaft drive its on the right.

The more interesting question to me is the introduction
of left handed threads and was there a precedent before
bicycles for left handed threads due to precession ?



Not so. Norton, Triumph, BSA, Velocette, Matchless, Royal Enfield, etc etc all put primary and final drive on the left. The wholesale move to to the right, as with politics, is a fairly recent event.

Brucey
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Brucey » 11 Nov 2014, 6:36am

Unlike bicycles, motorcycle sprockets (or pulleys) usually bolt onto the hub (or the wheel), so there is/was no special reason that I can think of for having them on one side or the other.

A similar conundrum relates to engines; most engines have an exposed 'front' end. The drive is taken off the other end of the engine, and most engines turn clockwise when the 'front' is viewed. I don't think there is any special reason for this to be the case.

cheers
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niggle
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby niggle » 11 Nov 2014, 7:54am

pete75 wrote:The wholesale move to to the right, as with politics, is a fairly recent event.

Eh? Every Japanese motorcycle I have ever seen has its final drive chain on the left, starting with my dad's Honda C70, as do all twist and go scooters with v belt final drive, so that is about 99% of all motorcycles I reckon. MZ two strokes had their chains on the right and BMWs have their shaft drives on the right but they really are the exception still...

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Mick F
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Re: What influenced the drive side choice?

Postby Mick F » 11 Nov 2014, 9:07am

All this discussion about thread direction is a red herring IMHO.

The inventors of the bicycle had to make a decision - left or right, and they all went to the right.
Why?
Because it makes sense to have the chainwheel and drive system away from you when you climb off and on and push the machine along on the left.

Remember, cyclists could ride their bikes in voluminous clothing, especially the ladies.
Mick F. Cornwall