We often see bicycles in the streets and only see them as a mean of transportation or a hobby. They are easy to use, affordable, and does not harm the environment. "A vehicle with two wheels tandem, a steering handle, a saddle seat, and pedals by which it is propelled." Webster's dictionary
Fair enough, this is true for the contemporary view of this vehicle. But actually the bicycle has evolved from different stages and forms before reaching our view of the "modern" bike. A long time ago bicycles did not have chains or even pedals to propel it. And you may have seen in movies with old plots bicycles with large front wheels and small rear wheels. And you may wonder that with the large types of bikes we have now have evolved from the bicycles I have mentioned.
How about the parts? Isn't it amazing how simple they are yet sufficient enough for us to use the whole bicycle? From the wheels to the pedals to the and to the gears, they all have their functions and parts.
And we sometimes wonder about the future of the bicycle. What would it be like, its benefits, and how would it help our environment. Unlike cars, bicycles does not pollute in any way. With more innovations to come in the future, bicycles will surely have its own.
History and Evolution the Bicycle and Types
A. before the 1800's
Surprisingly already before the 1800's, evidences of draft of bikes were found among Da Vinci's writings for the Italian government. This rough draft was made by one of Da Vinci's students in 1490's and only discovered by a group of monks in 1966. But bikes were not made then due to insufficient technology with materials that can be used for the parts required. After a few centuries in 1649 a compass maker in Northern Europe by the name of Johann Hautsch made a carriage that went 2000 paces per hour stopping when you wanted to. He created his carriage to work like a clock since he was a compass maker. It was a little more like a motorcar than a bicycle. And after a few decades Stephan Farffler created a tricycle that he drove him to church every Sunday. His tricycle was hand-cranked and soon became into a quadricycle(more like of a car).
B. the 1800's
These innovations soon developed into more of the bicycle we have today. To help him get around the royal gardens faster, in 1817 Baron Karl von Drais created a new kind of bike. It was entirely made out of wood with two identical wheels, the front one steerable mounted in a frame you used. It did not have any pedals so used your feet against the ground making the wheels revolve and move. It had the top speed of 10 miles per hour for a veteran user. Soon it was called the Draisiennes or hobby horses after its inventor. It was patented in January 12, 1818 in Baden Germany. It enjoyed a short time of popularity only as a fad but not a mean of transportation.
In 1839 to address the problem with the manual foot pushing to move Kirkpatrick Macmillian invented a mechanical crank to the back wheel acting like pedals. It is like treadle type pedals connected through rods.
In 1845 R.W. Thompson invented the pneumatic tire. It has a rubber tube inside with compressed air to support the wheel. This new invention greatly increased comfort as it absorbed more shock from biking. But it was not commercially developed so it was not yet popularly used.
In 1865 the Velocipede (fast foot) or popularly known as the Boneshaker was made with a wheel in front with a pedal on it. It was made by Ernest Michaux and Pierre Lallement in France. This bike was developed further by James Starley called the penny-farthing bicycle. This bike had the large front wheel which is high as the shoulder of a normal man! So each pedal would make more cover more distance and speed. But one of the disadvantages of this style is that rider sat so high that any bumps in the road can trip the bicycle forward making the rider fall on his head. The term "taking a header" came from this...
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Bicycle Book
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