Sunday, August 7, 2011

bicycle's dynamo and ring-lock

i wanted to use this picture (from the national archives of singapore) to show that in the past the lighting for bicycles was generated by a dynamo, usually located near the front wheel of the bicycle.

then the registration plate on the bicycle caught my attention. so, i will talk a bit about the registration of bicycles.

some bicycle owners have recently clamoured for the registration of bicycles to be re-introduced. registration of bicycles in singapore was stopped in 1981. the registry of vehicles (rov) decided to do away with registration because the $5 fee was not enough to cover the adminstrative cost. the main reason given for scrapping the registration was that only 2% of stolen bicycles were recovered.

registration of bicycles in singapore had been done before the war and it resumed after the war. during the japanese occupation, there was also some form of register for bicycle owners. at one time, owners had to renew the licence on a yearly basis, and when the ownership was transferred, a small fee was also charged for the new registration.

(mcs stands for municipal council of singapore)

this bottle dynamo or sidewall dynamo, which was affixed very close to the wheel, usually the front wheel, could be engaged by depressing a lever or catch. when engaged, the roller would be in contact with the tyre.

when the wheel was in motion and the dynamo roller was engaged, electricity was generated as the tyre spun the roller. this would translate into light for the headlight of the bicycle. the faster the wheel spun, the brighter would be the light.

however, even at its brightest, it was not very bright because the voltage was rather low. the bulb tended to blow once in a while, so it was necessary to have replacement bulbs on stand-by.

when engaged, however, there was some resistance, so the rider would have to pedal slightly harder than when the dynamo was disengaged.

this ring-lock used to be a standard item on ordinary bicycles in the past. when the lock was effected, the shaft would come between the spokes of the wheel. it would immobilise the rear wheel to prevent it from being moved. it was not a high security kind of lock as it could be broken or unlocked without the need for great force.

i had thought that these two items - the dynamo and the ring-lock - on the normal bicycle had gone out of fashion until i saw them on several bicycles in sweden.

in singapore, these two items are like antiques. i have not seen them around for a long time.


PChew said...

I remember another item attached to the bicycle. It was the bicycle pump which was attached to the bar below the bicycle seat. However, not every bicycle carried a pump.

yg said...

philip, you really have a good memory. yes, the pump was attached to two points on the frame of the bicycle. i have also not seen that for a long, long time.

Lam Chun See said...

Hey YG. I have been hunting for that bicycle dynamo (photo) for ages. Even Unk Dicko unable to help me.

Thanks also for reminding me of the ring lock.

As for the bicycle, pump, we would use the one at the bicycle shop and I remember it was too tall for us kids and of course we lacked the strength.

FL said...

I remember another feature in old bicycle which is not present now, and that is the bicycle stand behind the rear wheel. You need to lift the rear wheel to bring up the stand during parking. The present bicycles now use a side stand for parking. What do you all think ?

Thimbuktu said...

Hi Chun See,

Was this the old China-made bicycle found by chance below the Sitting in Pictures studio two months ago?

Lucky to discover the antique gem to post us the photo.


Ketchup said...

Hi Everyone, I collect classic bikes and chanced upon this blog...If any of you want to see pics of old bikes, please feel free to visit my website:

Heres my favourite bike...

David said...

I hope Chun See may be please to hear that many present day bicycles, esp those that you see ladies riding on them, they do have a dynamo fitted. I'd just removed one from my bicycle, trying to fix some selfmade fan blades on it but the wind at my balcony is not strong enough for it to light up the bulb.

I also had a bicycle in the 60's which I'd turned the handle upside down so that it looked better and like a racing bike. Many people did that too.

I have in my possession an old bicycle lamp, the type that used kerosene and wick for lighting. I think its of second ww period. It's an antique now.