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Q. My old Elgin bicycle has a lever by the back wheel on one side, and I cannot figure out what it is for. Do you have any information on this?

A. We found an Elgin bicycle with such a lever on page 917 of the fall 1938 Chicago edition catalog. According to the catalog, the lever serves as a way to shift between two speeds. By shifting the lever forward, the “gear ratio” is reduced by 28 percent, which makes climbing hills easier.

 
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