A bicycle, also called a pedal cycle, bike, push-bike or cycle, is a human-powered or motor-powered assisted, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A .mw-parser-output .vanchor>:target.vanchor-textbackground-color:#b1d2ffbicycle rider is called a cyclist, or bicyclist.
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century in Europe. By the early 21st century there were more than 1 billion. These numbers far exceed the number of cars, both in total and ranked by the number of individual models produced. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for use as children's toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services, bicycle racing, and bicycle stunts.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright or "safety bicycle", has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. However, many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for many types of cycling. In the 21st century electric bicycles have become popular.
The bicycle's invention has had an enormous effect on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that played a key role in the development of the automobile were initially invented for use in the bicycle, including ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets and tension-spoked wheels.
The word bicycle first appeared in English print in The Daily News in 1868, to describe "Bysicles and trysicles" on the "Champs Elysées and Bois de Boulogne". The word was first used in 1847 in a French publication to describe an unidentified two-wheeled vehicle, possibly a carriage. The design of the bicycle was an advance on the velocipede, although the words were used with some degree of overlap for a time.
The "dandy horse", also called Draisienne or Laufmaschine ("running machine"), was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais. It is regarded as the first bicycle and von Drais is seen as the "father of the bicycle", but it did not have pedals. Von Drais introduced it to the public in Mannheim in 1817 and in Paris in 1818. Its rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with his or her feet while steering the front wheel.
In the early 1860s, Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement took bicycle design in a new direction by adding a mechanical crank drive with pedals on an enlarged front wheel (the velocipede). This was the first in mass production. Another French inventor named Douglas Grasso had a failed prototype of Pierre Lallement's bicycle several years earlier. Several inventions followed using rear-wheel drive, the best known being the rod-driven velocipede by Scotsman Thomas McCall in 1869. In that same year, bicycle wheels with wire spokes were patented by Eugène Meyer of Paris. The French vélocipède, made of iron and wood, developed into the "penny-farthing" (historically known as an "ordinary bicycle", a retronym, since there was then no other kind). It featured a tubular steel frame on which were mounted wire-spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. These bicycles were difficult to ride due to their high seat and poor weight distribution. In 1868 Rowley Turner, a sales agent of the Coventry Sewing Machine Company (which soon became the Coventry Machinists Company), brought a Michaux cycle to Coventry, England. His uncle, Josiah Turner, and business partner James Starley, used this as a basis for the 'Coventry Model' in what became Britain's first cycle factory.
Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first-ever races in Ireland and then England. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1890s invention of coaster brakes. Dérailleur gears and hand-operated Bowden cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders.
In the 1870s many cycling clubs flourished. They were popular in a time when there were not cars on the market and the principal mode of transportation was horse-drawn vehicles, such the horse and buggy or the horsecar. Among the earliest clubs was The Bicycle Touring Club, which has operated since 1878. By the turn of the century, cycling clubs flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, and touring and racing became widely popular. The Raleigh Bicycle Company was founded in Nottingham, England in 1888. It became the biggest bicycle manufacturing company in the world, making over two million bikes per year.
Bicycles and horse buggies were the two mainstays of private transportation just prior to the automobile, and the grading of smooth roads in the late 19th century was stimulated by the widespread advertising, production, and use of these devices. More than 1 billion bicycles have been manufactured worldwide as of the early 21st century. Bicycles are the most common vehicle of any kind in the world, and the most numerous model of any kind of vehicle, whether human-powered or motor vehicle, is the Chinese Flying Pigeon, with numbers exceeding 500 million. The next most numerous vehicle, the Honda Super Cub motorcycle, has more than 100 million units made, while most produced car, the Toyota Corolla, has reached 44 million and counting.
1886 Rover safety bicycle at the British Motor Museum. The first modern bicycle, it featured a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels. Dunlop's pneumatic tire was added to the bicycle in 1888.
From the beginning, bicycles have been and continue to be employed for many uses. In a utilitarian way, bicycles are used for transportation, bicycle commuting, and utility cycling. It can be used as a 'work horse' by mail carriers, paramedics, police, messengers, and general delivery services. Military uses of bicycles include communications, reconnaissance, troop movement, supply of provisions, and patrol. See also: bicycle infantry.
The bicycle is also used for recreational purposes, such as bicycle touring, mountain biking, physical fitness, and play. Bicycle competition includes racing, BMX racing, track racing, criterium, roller racing, sportives and time trials. Major multi-stage professional events are the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España, the Tour de Pologne, and the Volta a Portugal.
The bicycle has undergone continual adaptation and improvement since its inception. These innovations have continued with the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design, allowing for a proliferation of specialized bicycle types, improved bicycle safety, and riding comfort.
Bicycles can be categorized in many different ways: by function, by number of riders, by general construction, by gearing or by means of propulsion. The more common types include utility bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles, touring bicycles, hybrid bicycles, cruiser bicycles, and BMX bikes. Less common are tandems, low riders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models, amphibious bicycles, cargo bikes, recumbents and electric bicycles.
A bicycle stays upright while moving forward by being steered so as to keep its center of mass over the wheels. This steering is usually provided by the rider, but under certain conditions may be provided by the bicycle itself.
The combined center of mass of a bicycle and its rider must lean into a turn to successfully navigate it. This lean is induced by a method known as countersteering, which can be performed by the rider turning the handlebars directly with the hands or indirectly by leaning the bicycle.
Short-wheelbase or tall bicycles, when braking, can generate enough stopping force at the front wheel to flip longitudinally. The act of purposefully using this force to lift the rear wheel and balance on the front without tipping over is a trick known as a stoppie, endo, or front wheelie.
The great majority of modern bicycles have a frame with upright seating that looks much like the first chain-driven bike. These upright bicycles almost always feature the diamond frame, a truss consisting of two triangles: the front triangle and the rear triangle. The front triangle consists of the head tube, top tube, down tube, and seat tube. The head tube contains the headset, the set of bearings that allows the fork to turn smoothly for steering and balance. The top tube connects the head tube to the seat tube at the top, and the down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket. The rear triangle consists of the seat tube and paired chain stays and seat stays. The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket to the rear dropout, where the axle for the rear wheel is held. The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube (at or near the same point as the top tube) to the rear fork ends.
Historically, women's bicycle frames had a top tube that connected in the middle of the seat tube instead of the top, resulting in a lower standover height at the expense of compromised structural integrity, since this places a strong bending load in the seat tube, and bicycle frame members are typically weak in bending. This design, referred to as a step-through frame or as an open frame, allows the rider to mount and dismount in a dignified way while wearing a skirt or dress. While some women's bicycles continue to use this frame style, there is also a variation, the mixte, which splits the top tube laterally into two thinner top tubes that bypass the seat tube on each side and connect to the rear fork ends. The ease of stepping through is also appreciated by those with limited flexibility or other joint problems. Because of its persistent image as a "women's" bicycle, step-through frames are not common for larger frames. 041b061a72