We are in the closing minutes now of National Bike Month. And in honor of one of my favorite pastimes, this week’s Heartlander is all the various folks, long gone now, who were involved in the early development of the bicycle.
Bicycles as we know them now, with two equal-sized wheels, rear wheel drive, and a steerable front wheel, evolved from a variety of early contraptions including the Penny-Farthing, the running machine (which did not have pedals) and seated carriage-bikes with more than two wheels. It’s basic design was set by the 1890’s, and while much has changed in bike technology, it remains largely the same.
These early bikes narrowed down to a basic design which subsequently exploded into a range of human pedal powered devices that do everything from carry a dozen beer drinkers around town (OK that one’s a bit far afield) to letting us fly down dirt roads at 30 + miles an hour, crash, and are still ready to roll. (Not that the person is ready to roll, but the bike is.)
While biking is a ton of fun, it’s most meaningful distinction in my mind is that it is the most efficient means of transportation ever developed. It is the peak of design expertise, a miracle of engineering. Available in your neighborhood starting around $250, helmet, lock and mud flaps extra.
So, to all those guys back in the 1700 and 1800s, Michaux, MacMillan, Starley, Drais von Sauerbronn, you started a Revolution. 😉