A bicycle is a two-wheeled vehicle driven by human power using two pedals. The wheels are generally attached to a metal frame, one in front and one in back. Sometimes the frame is made of carbon fiber or hard plastics.
The first bicycle was originally introduced in the 19th century in Europe. Presently, bicycles number around one billion across the entire world. In some areas of the world, they are the primary mode of transportation for the people, most notably in China and the Netherlands.
Bicycles have also grown to become a popular entertainment form of recreation. Bicycles, in one form or another, have been adopted into many roles and facets of life, such as toys, military, and police applications, courier services, cycle sports, etc.
The basic config and shape of the bike that we know have not changed much since it was developed in 1885. Particularly of late, subtle details have been improved via the use of computers and the improvement of materials used to make the bicycles.
The general use of modern technology has made it easy to have specialized designs for different types of cycling.
The Parts and Construction of a Typical Bicycle
The initial wheels of the first bikes used a wooden hub and a steel axel, the spokes were wood, and the “tire” was iron tacked on the outside. Today, the wheels have a metal alloy hub, steel or aluminum spokes, the rim is metal, and the tire is a treaded pneumatic that fits into the rim.
Today’s wheels use bearings inside the hub, which provide a smoother and freer role.
A vast amount of today’s bikes use the diamond frame, which looks like 2 triangles attached together. The front half has the head tube, the seat tube, the top tube, and the down tube. The head tube contains a pair of bearings for steering.
The top tube connects to the down tube, which the seat fits into, and also connects to the bottom bracket, where the cranks and crank bearings are found. The rear half of the frame is the seat and chainstays.
The drivetrain is the pedals, crank arms, crank axel, chain, and front and rear sprockets.
Sitting and Steering
Steering is done via the handlebars, which are connected to the head tube. Sitting is provided by a saddle that sits atop the seat tube. Bike seats come in many shapes and sizes for a different types of cycling, and so do bicycle handlebars.
Today’s bikes use one of three types of brakes. Side pull brakes, activate by clamping against the side of the rim when you pull the brake lever. Disc brakes have a pair of padded calipers that grab a brake disc when you pull the lever and the coaster brake, which engages when you pedal in reverse.
A relatively new system on bicycles, there are many means of accomplishing suspension systems on a bike. Front suspension is usually a simple dual spring shock system, though some bikes have a single short but stiff spring shock between the top of the forks and the axel going up into the head tube.
Rear suspensions vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Loss of power due to “pedal bob” has caused the introduction of spring shock suspended seat posts to allow for a smooth ride without this loss of power.
Mudguards, chain guards, kickstands, baskets, rear racks, bike pumps, locks, drink bottles with holders, all of these are accessories that can be had for a bicycle.