You might not think much of the humble bicycle, but if you knew its history you’d understand that it’s much more than just a mode of transport and a hipster accessory. The bike caused huge changes in society and, without it; things would be very different in this country. So, if you’d like to know more just why the bike is so important, take a look at our brief history of cycling:
In 1817 Karl von Drais invented the ‘Hobby Horse’. It wasn’t quite a bike, but it served a similar purpose – it was marginally faster than walking. It was made of wood and had no pedals, gears or a bike chain, so you had to push it along with your feet. A bit like the Flintstones but less awesome.
By 1861 Pierre Michaux came along and put some wheels on the Hobby Horse. The pedals were attached to the front wheel, so the biggest this wheel was the further you could travel without having to pedal furiously. Thus the Penny Farthing was invented.
As was the world’s most inevitably epic faceplant.
This style of bike lasted just over 20 years, because in 1885 John Kemp Starley invented a bike with a chain, gears and a driving rear wheel. In 1888 John Boyd Dunlop created the pneumatic tyre, which was made from rubber to increase comfort when riding.
In 1890 the first social changes were happening because of the bicycle. The topic of what women could wear when bike riding was debated all over the world, since pedalling in a corset and ten petticoats wasn’t exactly comfortable (I assume, I threw my petticoats out when they stopped being cool). Soon after this, women were allowed to wear divided skirts (similar to culottes) and, in the USA; bloomers became the norm for bicycling women.
Throughout the first fifty years of the 20th century the bike had a complete overhaul, with quick-release wheels, smoother cycles, derailleur gears and cable operated brakes all being invented. As well as this, aluminium alloy started to be used for the wheel rims and bike handlebars, which helped to reduce the bicycle’s weight.
Mountain biking first appeared in the 1970s and the 2,600ft Mount Tamalpais in California is often referred to as its birthplace. By 1986 mountain biking had caught on worldwide and the original mountain bike had been updated and adapted for the sport. You could even buy it in green.
In the 1980s titanium and carbon fibre started to be used, and combined brake and gear systems started to appear. Bicycle aerodynamics are constantly being adapted upon, with different views on the topic being broadcast from all over the world.
In the most recent years new bike styles have popped up all over the place and you can now get all kinds of accessories to go with your bicycle. There’s a bike out there for absolutely everyone, whether you’re after mountain, hybrid, fixed-gear, folding, electric, BMX, dirt or road bikes.
Not this though, that’s just silly.