A brief history of the bike

So who invented the first bicycle as we know it today? Well it’s kind of a hot topic because there were variations of cycles being developed at different times in history, but the actual vehicle with pedals that propelled two wheels came around somewhere between 1862 and 1864.

The exact year is argued by bicycle history buffs, but it’s agreed that it was invented by the French. Nasty little contraption. The pedals were on the front wheel and it had a wooden frame and steel tires. This cycle was known as the Velocipede or, the common name was boneshaker because you can imagine why. This thing was hard to ride and extremely uncomfortable to ride on without rubber on the tires.

velocipede boneshaker

The first cycle had a wooden frame which was improved when cast iron was found to be stronger, but had to be bolted together. So this frame was actually two pieces. Not long after the single framed, wrought iron design was invented, although it didn’t become widely popular right away.

So the idea and the general shape of the bicycle was formed. Next came an invention of spokes on the wheels, and in 1885 the steerable handlebars to control the front wheel were added. Each of these inventions were done by different people so the bicycle really does have an extensive history. With an important development being in the early 1880s and 1890s with these inventions all happening and forming the safety bicycle.

It wasn’t until around 1888-1889 that the chain drive was invented to help with the bicycles speed, comfort, and stability, but most importantly allowed for easier pedaling so corners could more easily make turns! This all resulted in what was the bicycle craze.

All of this before the 20th century had even started!  However when the turn of the century came, bicycles were everywhere from Europe to the United States. As each decade progressed there were new innovations made and changes in what was popular and where it was popular. In the early 1900s for example the demand of cycling was not as high in the United States. This was because of the invention of the automobile. Europe, though, not only continued the demand of bicycles, but it spread through other parts of the world and racing bicycles became of huge popularity!

It wasn’t until the 1970s that racing bicycles became popular in the United States. Being that bicycles are energy efficient and a healthy choice was another reason that the “bicycle boom” began in North America.

There are many different styles of bicycles to date. Mountain biking, BMX biking, recumbent bikes, two seaters are just a few aside from the Beach Cruiser, which will be its own entire topic on this forum! Just like anything really,  bicycles are evolving so much. There are electric bikes, hybrid bikes, not to mention rental bikes in major cities that work like taking a cab!

These can be rented at one location and returned at another with the exact mileage recorded and locked in so you pay the correct fare. All of these innovations have moved the world forward.Understanding the extensive history that is behind the bicycle is interesting because of its evolution and that it is continually still evolving.

The beach cruiser style bicycle in particular has kept the key concepts that were originally the most important factors for the bicycle to have which included simplicity, comfort, and stability. Another thing that the beach cruisers have from a selling and consumer point of view is the element of  relaxation and enjoyment the cruiser brings while still doing its job as a bicycle which is a means of transportation. Their oversize balloon tires, their heavier weighted frame, their large comfort seat, and the large, easy to maneuver peddling with soft braking system.

It is not hard to see what makes a beach cruiser the perfect cycle for families with young children, couples who want to cruise around the city on a weekend or for a person who needs to use it for a real means of transportation like getting to and from work. When a bike rental shop does their purchasing it is the beach cruisers that they order the most of because of what was previously mentioned, and because they are the safest and cheapest to insure.

The only time that another type of bicycle might be a better rental would be if it is going to be used either on steep hills or mountains where gears are needed to make the trip. Even beach cruisers now have tandem styles (two or more can ride on a single bike) and bike trailers. They are evolving in their own category of cycle and will continue into the future.

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