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History of bicycles


Sulo

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The History of Bicycles

Introduction

The bicycle, a simple yet elegant form of transportation, has significantly advanced through the years. From its earliest forms, it has evolved technologically and culturally, impacting not only our daily commutes, but our health, environment, and society. The journey of the bicycle holds an expansive history that deserves to be travelled.

The Origins of Bicycles: 1800s

The earliest notable precursor to the bicycle was the 'Laufmaschine' or 'Running Machine,' invented by German Karl Drais in 1817. It lacked pedals and was moved by the rider pushing off the ground with their feet. The introduction of pedals came around at a later date with the advent of the 'Bone shaker' around 1863, named for its unforgiving ride due to a frame made entirely of wood.

The Safety Bicycle: 1880s - Early 1900s

It wasn't until the 1880s that the 'Safety Bicycle' surfaced, largely resembling our modern-day bicycles. John Kemp Starley introduced the Rover, a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it much more useful and safer than the high wheelers. During this time, bicycles became increasingly popular for leisure, sport, and commuting.

Golden Age of Bicycles: Late 1800s - Early 1900s

The late 19th century marked 'The Golden Age of Bicycles'. Both men and women adopted bicycles for recreational and practical use, making the bicycle a symbol of women's independence and rejection of traditional constraints. In addition, mass production made bicycles more affordable for ordinary people, bridging the gap between classes.

Bicycles in the Modern Era

From road bikes to mountain bikes, electric bikes to folding bikes, the 20th and 21st centuries saw an explosion in the variety and complexity of bicycles. The 'Schwinn Stingray,' with its banana seat and ape-hanger handlebars, captivated a generation of young Americans in the 1960s. In the same era, French engineer, Jean Stablinski, introduced the 'Look KG 86,' the first carbon fiber bike that triggered a revolution in frame materials from steel to more advanced and lighter materials, carbon fiber, and aluminum.

Conclusion

The history of the bicycle is a journey of constant evolution and innovation. From simple foot-powered machines to technologically advanced, eco-friendly modes of transport, bicycles have maintained their place in society as symbols of freedom, health, and sustainable living. Looking forward, the potential for continued growth and progression in the world of bicycles is as open as the road they ride on.

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