Bicycle, also called bike, two-wheeled steerable machine that is pedaled by the rider’s feet.
Riding is easily mastered, and bikes can be ridden with little effort at 16–24 km (10–15 miles) per hour — about four to five times the pace of walking.
The bicycle is the most efficient means yet devised to convert human energy into mobility.
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.
Historians disagree about the invention of the bicycle, and many dates are challenged. It is most likely that no individual qualifies as the inventor and that the bicycle evolved through the efforts of many.
Although Leonardo da Vinci was credited with having sketched a bicycle in 1492 in his Codex Atlanticus, the drawing was discovered to be a forgery added in the 1960s.
Another presumed bicycle ancestor, the vélocifère, or célérifère, of the 1790s was a fast horse-drawn coach that is not considered to be a predecessor of the bicycle.
The first means of transport making use of two wheels arranged consecutively, and thus the archetype of the bicycle, was the German draisine dating back to 1817.
The term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s, and the descriptive title “penny farthing”, used to describe an “ordinary bicycle”, is a 19th-century term.
In hopes of adding stability, inventors such as Eugène Meyer and James Starley later introduced new models that sported an oversized front wheel. Dubbed “penny-farthings” or “ordinaries,” these oddly shaped machines became all the rage during the 1870s and 1880s, and helped give rise to the first bicycle clubs and competitive races. Beginning in 1884, an Englishman named Thomas Stevens famously rode a high-wheeler bike on a journey around the globe.
After those first few years of high wheel bicycle popularity, in 1885 Englishman John Kemp Starley created his first “safety bicycle”. Today that invention is regarded as one of the most important moments in bicycle history. It had featured chain that connected pedals to the rear wheel and steerable front wheel. This device (called Rover) ignited the era known today as “Golden Age of Bicycles”.
Interest in the two-wheeled machines exploded, and by the 1890s, Europe and the United States were in the midst of a bike craze. A New York Times article from 1896 gushed that “the bicycle promises a splendid extension of personal power and freedom, scarcely inferior to what wings would give.”
Cycling steadily became more important in Europe over the first half of the twentieth century, but it dropped off dramatically in the United States between 1900 and 1910. Automobiles became the preferred means of transportation. Over the 1920s, bicycles gradually became considered children’s toys, and by 1940 most bicycles in the United States were made for children. In Europe cycling remained an adult activity, and bicycle racing, commuting, and “cyclotouring” were all popular activities.
In 1981, the first mass-produced mountain bike appeared, intended for use off-pavement over a variety of surfaces. It was an immediate success, and examples flew off retailers’ shelves during the 1980s, their popularity spurred by the novelty of all-terrain cycling and the increasing desire of urban dwellers to escape their surroundings via mountain biking and other extreme sports. These cycles featured sturdier frames, wider tires with large knobs for increased traction, a more upright seating position (to allow better visibility and shifting of body weight), and increasingly, various front and rear suspension designs. By 2000, mountain bike sales had far outstripped that of racing, sport/racer, and touring bicycles.
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.
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 longest bicycle is 47.5 m (155 ft 8 in) long, and was achieved by Bernie Ryan (Australia) as measured and ridden in Paynesville, Victoria, Australia, on 14 November 2020.
At $1 million the 24k Gold Extreme Mountain Bike is the most expensive bicycle in the world. It is also known as “fat bike”. It is gold-plated with pure 24k gold and It has a gold-plated water bottle. Electroplating process is used to coat the bike. There were only 13 bikes in the market. All of them customizable. Every bike bears a logo of “THSG” (The House of Solid Gold). Over 600 Black Diamonds and 500 golden sapphires were used to embellish the logo of THSG.