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Colorful Sport Bicycle Illustration
colorful sport bicycle

Bicycle Information

It is hard to trace the history of the modern bicycle back to its original origins, as no one seems to know exactly when that was!

bicycles on concrete pavers
Bicycles on Pavement

Archeologists have discovered bas-relief and hieroglyphic evidence of two-wheeled vehicles existing in ancient Babylonian and Egyptian societies, but no ancient relics have ever been found. Many people believe that the bicycle was invented by Leonardo da Vinci according to a drawing in a notebook; however, most experts believe that it was either done by his assistant or a fake that was drawn much later.

One thing that experts do not dispute is the creation of the draisine around 1817 by Baron Karl Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. This machine was constructed of two wheels connected to a simple wooden frame with a steering mechanism and was patented as a walking machine, enabling riders to travel up to ten miles an hour. During the same period, in 1820, a similar machine known as the swift-walker was patented in the United States by W. K. Clarkson. These become popular in New York City but eventually disappeared due to city ordinances.

Around 1860, a French man named Pierre Michaux attached crank handles from an old grindstone to the front wheel of the swift-walker, creating the velocipede, a forerunner of the modern bicycle. One of his employees, Pierre Lallement, contended that he conceived of this idea first and took it to the United States, where he patented it in 1866 and introduced it to the public.

The 1870s brought such improvements as lighter steel frames, solid rubber tires, tension-spoked wheels, ball-bearings, brakes, and lights. It was during this time that the swift-walker or velocipede officially became known as the bicycle. Eventually the size of the front wheel was increased and it was not uncommon to see bicycles with front wheels up to five feet in diameter.

In 1884, John Kemp Starley invented the chain-drive mechanism, allowing the two wheels to be much closer in size. Tires with inflatable tubes became standard in the 1890s, as did caliper rim brakes, and multi-gear derailleur systems. By the turn of the century, over 10 million Americans owned bikes and bike racing had become a major international sport.

However, the industry declined heavily by 1903, in large part due to the automobile. It was partially revived during the gas rationing of the Great Depression and World War II, and then again in the 1960s and 1970s. BMX, triathlon, and mountain bikes came on to the scene in the 1970s and 1980s, further revolutionizing the bicycle industry.

A Cyclist Rides a Bicycle (Animation)

Today's bicycles have continually become sturdier, more lightweight, and more aerodynamic. With an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide riding bicycles for transportation or simply recreation, the bicycle is one invention that has profoundly affected our civilization.

Bicycle-related organizations include the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, the National Bicycle Dealers Association, and the League of American Bicyclists, as well as other, more specialized or localized, organizations.

The following links include page titles and summaries for reference articles, directory pages, and captioned images about bicycles and cycling-related themes.

  • Cycling Apparel
    Find information about cycling apparel such as shorts, tights, jerseys, shoes, gloves, and jackets, as well as links to bicycle apparel and accessory dealers.
    http://bicycleaccessories.us/shop.htm
  • Bicycle Brakes
    Learn about different types of bicycle brakes including coaster, caliper, v-brake, or disc varieties, and find links to bike brakes for sale.
    http://bicycleparts.us/brakes.htm
  • Bicycle Manufacturers
    Bicycle manufacturers offer road bikes, mountain bikes, BMX bikes, and accessories. Find links to selected bicycle manufacturers to help find your ideal bike.
    http://bicycleshop.us/manufacturers.htm
  • Touring Bicycles
    Many people enjoy the exercise and relaxation of a bicycle tour. Learn about touring bicycles and other equipment you will need for a successful bike tour.
    http://bicycletours.us/bicycles.htm
  • Recumbent Bicycle History
    Recumbent bicycles allow the rider to sit in a reclined position instead of erect while pedaling. Learn about the history of recumbent bikes and find links to manufacturers and dealers.
    http://recumbent-bikes.us/history.htm
  • Bike Racks (Photograph)
    Many cities and parks have racks, like the ones pictured here, for storing and securing bicycles. These two blue bike racks are permanently installed in concrete so that riders can stow their bicycles and enjoy the park on foot.
    http://bikeracks.us/bike-racks.htm
  • Stationary Bike (Illustration)
    Many exercise bikes include attached televisions or other decides to provide entertainment to the user while he or she is riding. Many people enjoy using an mp3 player to listen to music while exercising.
    http://exercisebikes.us/stationary-bike.htm
  • Bicycle Storage (Photograph)
    One of the most effective forms of garage storage are lift hoist bike holders. These holders vary according to brand, but the general purpose is to strap a bicycle in and then hoist the bike up toward the ceiling.
    http://garagestorage.us/bicycle-storage.htm
  • Home Gym (Photograph)
    Sunlight filters through a sliding glass door and many-paned window into a home gym. The home gym has equipment for building strength and muscle and burning calories, including a rack of free weights, a weight machine, and a stationary bicycle.
    http://homegyms.us/home-gym.htm

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