The history of the bicycle

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So I was speaking with a friend the other day and he asked what I found so fascinating about bicycles?

This has been a question I have tried to answer for many years in many ways and it is not a simple answer. Just as there are millions of different bicycles there are millions of reasons I love them.

I love the simplicity of the machine, I love the freedom you gain when you get your first bicycle that extends your range exponentially, I love how so many great companies have their roots firmly planted in bicycles, I love the variety of different styles, materials, designs, and the level of customization that the bicycle incorporates, I love the history of bicycles and the people who have pushed the boundaries of what is possible and created the next generation of what the bicycle can be.

Where would we be without the bicycle?

Harley Davidson got their start in bicycles which later evolved to early motorcycles which has evolved into an entire industry and culture of it's own.

The Wright brothers got their start in bicycles and stemmed the entire world of aviation and later space travel.

Henry Ford used many bicycle parts in the making of his first automobile which stemmed the entire automotive industry.



Pretty much all of transportation can be traced back to some guy tinkering with bicycles. Bicycles are more than just 20 lbs of steel, aluminum, rubber, and leather formed into a simple mode of transportation. It's art, it's expression, it's self reliance, it's science, it's design, it's passion, it's a status symbol, it's an object that is so simple yet so sophisticated, it's a vision that anything is possible, it's everything and more.

So I'll ask you all now.

What do YOU find so fascinating about bicycles?
 
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Son of Kradus

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For me its the ability to transverse the planets surface at a far greater pace than walking, under your own power, not batteries or gas, the portability of this machine we call a bicycle, can be kept inside, taken with you on a train etc, the freedom you get from a bike be it bicycle of motorcycle is matched only by....sailing, taming the wind!
 
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For me, a bike from a different era is like a time machine back to that era. I am a big fan of '60s (and '70s and '80s) Americana. If you jump on a '60s middleweight, or a '70s banana seat bike, or an '80s BMX machine, you're experiencing the bicycle in a way that most people don't anymore, and haven't for years. It's an opportunity to feel like a kid again, but more than that, it's a way to be that kid in a simpler time.

Something I've mentioned here once or twice before is that I collect old slot cars (Aurora, AFX, Tyco, like that). I find them fascinating for the same reason... they are a gateway to a time when we (as kids) tinkered with machines instead of screens.
 

Son of Kradus

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For me, a bike from a different era is like a time machine back to that era. I am a big fan of '60s (and '70s and '80s) Americana. If you jump on a '60s middleweight, or a '70s banana seat bike, or an '80s BMX machine, you're experiencing the bicycle in a way that most people don't anymore, and haven't for years. It's an opportunity to feel like a kid again, but more than that, it's a way to be that kid in a simpler time.

Something I've mentioned here once or twice before is that I collect old slot cars (Aurora, AFX, Tyco, like that). I find them fascinating for the same reason... they are a gateway to a time when we (as kids) tinkered with machines instead of screens.
Loved AFX , And yes your right, AFX would have to have been my very first experience modifying and swapping out parts on a machine 🤣🤣🤣
 

Ulu

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As soon as I touch a can of greasy ball bearings, I am seven years old again, sitting in my dad’s garage watching him rebuild my mom’s thrift-store bicycle while I polished the balls.

You just can’t buy that . . .

I think it’s part of why we always said silly things like, “It’s not really yours unless you built it.” or, “ Anybody can restore an antique, but it takes a real man to cut one up.” We were hypnotized into making more of this than it really is.

But it was just a white lie. Anyhow, that’s why I work on them.

This, aside from the basic physical exercise, is the reason that I ride them:
AD29A512-D0E2-45AC-8206-9A6CB799CD19.jpeg

My name is Ulu and I am a bikaholic.
 
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For me, a bike from a different era is like a time machine back to that era. I am a big fan of '60s (and '70s and '80s) Americana. If you jump on a '60s middleweight, or a '70s banana seat bike, or an '80s BMX machine, you're experiencing the bicycle in a way that most people don't anymore, and haven't for years.
Very true I love 1940's and 1950's bikes and I had an absolute blast the first time I rode my fully dressed out Western Flyer Super with tank, crash bars, Springer fork, rack, and all. Feels so much different than bikes now. Heavy, sturdy, quality.
 
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I enjoy the 3 dimensional aspect of maneuvering a two wheeled vehicle, leaning into the turns, the synchony of man with machine. It's far and away more fun per mile than vehicles with more wheels.

And there's also the fact that bicycles are the most efficient vehicles ever designed.

( Admittedly, they probably didn't make their calculations based on data from a fat tire bike with a bunch of double D cells in a heavy gauge steel tank, front and rear racks, and tassled grip ends )
 

Tallbikeman

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Hi, my name is Tallbikeman and I'm a bikeaholic. I ride, repair and modify bicycles to fit my twisted version of bicycling. That said I am pretty adamant about riding every day for at least 10 miles if not more. All my bicycles are 35 to 40+ years old and reflect the bikes of my youth. I like road bikes that I can use on dirt roads too. I love Schwinn Varsity frames and forks for the wonderful bikes they build into and the fact that the 26" frame size fits me. I also raced AFX Aurora cars in the 1960's and loved them.
 
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I enjoy the 3 dimensional aspect of maneuvering a two wheeled vehicle, leaning into the turns, the synchony of man with machine. It's far and away more fun per mile than vehicles with more wheels.

And there's also the fact that bicycles are the most efficient vehicles ever designed.

( Admittedly, they probably didn't make their calculations based on data from a fat tire bike with a bunch of double D cells in a heavy gauge steel tank, front and rear racks, and tassled grip ends )

Well some of mine may be slightly less efficient than the others but when measuring in smiles per gallon it's pretty hard to beat them. Even if they are a little on the chunky side.
IMG_20230128_105728275.jpg
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I read this recently. It was especially interesting since it started here in Hartford, CT. Henry Ford is rumored to have visited the Pope factory in Hartford.

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