History of the bicycle;
Oldest testimonies of this popular vehicle today are back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, China or India and a section of the set of drawings and writings by Leonardo da Vinci “Codez Atlanticus”, already there is a drawing of a bicycle with a chain drive as those used at present.
Rough two-wheelers powered feet were common in the early years of the second half of the seventeenth century. In 1690, a Frenchman, Count Mede of Sivrac invented the “Célérifère”, consisting of a wooden frame to which the wheels were added. The vehicle had no handlebars, the seat was a pillow on the frame and propelled and directed pushing your feet against the floor.
In 1816 German Noble Karl Drais designed the first two-wheeler with steering device. This machine, called “Draisine” in honor of its inventor, who had a handle pivoted on the frame, allowing rotation of the front wheel. Later, British, French and German inventors introduced improvements. In England, these early models were popularized as “Dandy Horse”, were already lighter than the “Draisine” and had an adjustable seat and a support for the elbow.
In 1839, a Scottish blacksmith, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, added driving levers and pedals to a machine similar to “Draisine”. These innovations allowed the rider to propel the machine with the feet off the ground. The drive mechanism was consisting of short pedals attached to the hub of the rear wheel and connected by rods of long levers, which fit into the table top of the machine. The connecting rods levers joined nearly a third of its length from the pedals. The machine was driven by the push of the foot down and forward using it in 1846 on his return trip to Glasgow of 226 km, covering a stretch of 65 km at an average speed of 13 km/h, an improved model of this machine, designed by a Scot, took the name of “Dalzell”, widely used in Britain.
In 1861, Ernest Michaux decided to provide pedals to the front wheel of an old “Draisine”. Although the discovery was of great importance, he found a serious problem for some time and was impossible to fix as there was no way to keep the balance with the pedal movement. Ernest Michaux realized that the two-wheeled machine would be stable whenever a sufficient speed, simple and logical thing.
Ernest Michaux is recognized as the direct precursor of the bicycle but names like Philip Moritx or Galloux should be appointed as they built pedal bikes for private use which their pictures and references can be easily found on the internet and there are also older references found in Egyptian glyphs in which a man mounted on an apparatus comprising two wheels attached to a rack are described. The invention of Ernest Michaux, “Michaulina” was produced in series attracting the attention of the masses.
This model became very popular in France. The frame and wheels were made of wood. The tires were of iron and pedals were positioned in the hub of the front wheel or the driver, who was slightly higher than the rear wheel. In Britain this machine became known as the “Boneshaker“ because of its vibrations while driving on rocky roads or cobblestone streets.
In 1869, in Britain solid rubber tires mounted on steel were introduced, invention of Robert William Thomson, and the vehicle was the first to be patented under the name modern bicycle. In 1888, John Boyd Dunlop developed the first tire with air chamber for the tricycle that his nine-year-old child used to go to school for the bumpy streets of Belfast. To solve the problem of chattering, Dunlop rubber tubes were inflated with an air pump to inflate balloons. After he wrapped the rubber tubes with a tarp to protect them and stuck them on the rims of the wheels of the tricycle. Until then, most of the wheels had solid rubber tires, but the tires allowed a noticeably smoother ride. Developed the idea and patented the pneumatic chamber in the December 7, 1889.
In 1873, James Starley, an English inventor, produced the first machine with almost all the features of the famous common or high-wheel bicycle. The front wheel of the Starley machine was three times larger than the back and in January 7, 1886, the American Thomas Stevens made the first bicycle trip around the world. He left San Francisco and returned to the same city after pedaling over three years.
The May 31, 1889, did officially born competitive cycling when Olivier brothers, associated to Ernest Michaux factory, organized a run in the park of Saint Cloud in Paris with 1200 m of race where were taking part 7 cyclists and from this moment started the cycling fever, continuously trying to find solutions and researching new technology, speed ??became an obsession. The “Michaulinas” were too slow since each complete turn of the pedals roamed 3.14 meters and manufacturers increased the diameter of the front wheels up to wheels 3 m in diameter, but at the expense of safety, balance and weight reaching some models weigh 40 Kg.
From these errors manufacturers tended to homogenize their machines and the huge front wheels were reduced to a diameter of 1.2 meters and the rear 0,40 meters introducing changes and improvements in the following years as the ball bearing and tire. These inventions with the use of welded steel pipes and spring seats, took the bike to the summit of its development, appearing in 1880, known safe or low machine. The wheels were about the same size and pedals attached to a toothed wheel through gears and a drive chain, moving the rear wheel.
In 1885, John Kemp Starley creates the “Safety Bicycle” where the front wheel is smaller and thanks to the use of bearing balls, is driven by a chain and brakes were added for a better safety being added shortly after, in 1888, the tires developed by John Boyd Dunlop.
The safety bicycle quickly spread throughout the industrialized world. In 1896, a bicycle could cost 3 month salary for an average worker, but by 1909 had fallen to less than one month of work. This bike has a great resemblance to the bike we all know today. In France, the Michelin brothers created a removable tire and in Italy, Giovanni Battista Pirelli did the same. With the tire and a few spare cameras could go everywhere with bikes weigh between 18 and 20 kilos.
In 1903 the first Tour de France was held with 2428 miles of route devised by Henri Desgranges. The Tour, which has since improved over the years and has become today a sophisticated test machines center that do not exceed its approval if not emerge triumphant of the French round, has been given birth to many bicycle prototypes.
The first Giro d’Italia (created by Costamagna, Cougnet and Morgagni) was held in May 1909 and, later, First Tour of Spain in 1935, designed by Juan Pujol. The main route for South American test stages, the Tour of Colombia, was not held until 1951.
In the 1960s and 1970s, air pollution by gases from cars, so the severe global oil crisis joined for several years, increased the interest in the bike. In part because of these stimuli, the popularity of cycling has increased enormously. In some cities, bicycle lanes and bicycle routes settled themselves and the importance given to the physical form in the 1970s and 1980s increased their popularity. Lightweight racing bicycle ten speed with hand brakes and narrow high-pressure tires became widespread.
In the early 70’s fashion using the bike on dirt roads began and then were several groups of cyclists practicing this new form, between them called “The Canyon Gang”, represented by John York, Tom Slifka, Kim and Robert Kraft, who were dedicated to pursue careers in the mountains “Tamalpais” in the state of California, but the bikes they used were cross bike (with very thin rim) which was very commonly found in Europe at the time. It was then that Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher and Tom Ritchey had the idea of putting on wider tires to their old Schwinn Excelsiors brand bikes weighing about 18 kg and thus obtained more control and were fastest of the mountain.
In 1976 the same Breeze, Kelly Fisher and Ritchey organized a 3 mile race “Cascade Fire” near the region called “Fairfax” in California. Reaching the 1977 teen still “Breeze” mounted ten Cromoly frames using the same principles of the geometry of their bikes Schwinn Excelsior and used one of these bikes in a race winning it. This new type of bicycle frames inspired Fisher to just get one and asked Ritchey to build one for him. Hence these new bikes were called Mountain Bike.
In 1974 Russ Mahon, Carter Cox and Bernie Mahon, mountain bikers, were the first to participate in a race with a rear derailleur (derailleurs) which was invented in 1958 by French Campagnolo for road bikes. This drew a lot of attention to the rest of the runners and by 1975 all race participants already had one. This bike with new components weighed just over 20 kg.
In 1987 the first front suspension was introduced commercially by the company “Trek“ and with a big war technology and marketing, Trek also introduced in 1990 the first full-suspension bike with a similar weight to that of 1974, about 20Kg.
Dutchman Fred Rompelberg has today the speed record cycling who reached the 10 March 1995 the incredible speed of 268.83 miles per hour in a specially designed bike (Motor-paced racing)
At present there are in the world some 900 million bicycles doubling the amount of cars.