Brief history of the bicycle (2/2)

The problem with such tall heights was the instability. Thus, it was used for sport rather than as usual way of transport. Manufacturers homogenised the bicycles by standardising the front wheel to the 1.2 m diameter and the rear wheel to 40 cm.

The word bicycle was common in the UK in 1880. The French translated it as bicyclette. The use of rubber tyres instead of wood was introduced by John Boyd Dunlop in 1888 making the rides more comfortable. At the same years, the French brothers Michelin created a removable tyre and so did the Italian Battista Pirelli.

The bicycles weighted between 18 and 20 kg in these years. The brake pads appeared in 1893. The invention which allowed to think the bicycle as a mass vehicle was the chain transmission between chainring and sprocket. This new incorporation was developed by the French Guilment and the British Harry John Lawson in 1879 although its production took place in 1884. In the same era the bicycle with chain transmission and equal wheels appeared thanks to John Kemp Starley. This bike was commonly known as Rover Safety Bicycle. This was the precursor model of the modern bicycle.

The bikes we enjoy nowadays are evolved from the 1885 Rover bicycle. Starley should be considered the father of the modern bikes production as he started it in his company The Rover Company, co-founded with William Sutton, in 1877. They banged them out and it was well accepted in every country. In the XX century, only small improvements have been made to the bicycle such as the gear change or the use of lighter and more resistant materials.

Brief history of the bicycle (1/2)

Previously to the official bike birth, there were a bunch of tries to develop a way of transport different to the traditional carriages. It seems that it was the evolution of let’s say a toy invented and named Célérifère back in the early 19th century. The object had a wooden chassis with animal shape and two wheels. The problem was it could only go in straight line. This invention borned in Paris, France in 1791 during the French Revolution. Earl Mede de Sivrac made it up by putting the two wheels in tandem rather than in parallel as it was common at that time. Britons plagiarised it with their Dandy Horse.

For 20 years it remained unaltered until the German Karl Von Drais introduced an innovation by adding handlebars. He named it Laufmaschine (running machine in German), although it is known as Draisine. He patented it and had certain success. Still it moved as a scooter due to the lack of pedals. The Scottish Kirkpatrick Macmillan added crankshafts through two cranks which allowed spinning the back wheel in 1839.

The French Pierre Michaux and his son Ernesto invented the pedals in 1861. This invention allowed the velocipede to reach higher speeds than with the draisine: The spectacular 5 km/h (3.11 mph) speed and 30 pedal rotations by minute.

In the next years, the innovations consisted in increasing the front wheel since as it had a direct transmission, the bigger the wheel, the more distance with every pedaling. At the same time the rear wheel was reduced to avoid excessive weight to the velocipede. The English people created the BI or High Wheeler to fulfill this idea. The objective was increasing speed with less weight, but also with less equilibrium. Hence, a velocipede with a 1.40 m diameter front wheel advanced 4.40 m, whereas if the wheel had a diameter of 1.70 m, its movement was 8.40 m. The record was reached by Victor Renard who put the cyclist at 2.50 m to advance 12.25 m every time a complete wheel turn was made.

Much more than a wheel chair

Have you ever thought whether or not a disabled person can ride a bike? And if so, how would they do it? People in wheel chairs have it easy. The handbike or handcycle is a special vehicle in which a component is hooked to the wheel chair to form machine with three wheels in total. It moves by the force of the arms. Basically, it uses the same mechanism as a bicycle, but allows users to move further than just using a wheel chair. Nevertheless and for safety, streets and paths must be adapted similarly as it was a wheel chair. This new experience makes users enjoy all the bicycles benefits such as sport, environment, happiness and so on. Indeed, there are groups which cooperate to benefit themselves. One of them is the Club Tres Rodes Aspaym in Valencia (Three Wheels Group in English), the first in Spain. They enjoy their handbikes, promote social inclusion, prepare routes once a month, participate in activities and defend its reason. They are inspiring leaders.


Stickers fight

As the bicycle has been using more and more in the last years, drivers from the privileged group (car drivers) have been get used to it. Nevertheless, there is still a number of them who believes the whole street is for them. Sometimes cars do not respect bike or pedestrian lines, putting lives in risk. If only they would realize the potential damage their machines can cause. Moving a one-tonne car at 50 km/h (30 mph) or more is likely to produce death to a pedestrian in a car accident. Protests have been producing around the world from violent to peaceful ones. Between these lasts, the use of stickers is popular from Russia to Mexico. In the next video you can see how it works and the car drivers reactions.