Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History

Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History


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The bicycle ranks as one of the most enduring, most widely used vehicles in the world, with more than a billion produced during almost two hundred years of cycling history. This book offers an authoritative and comprehensive account of the bicycle's technical and historical evolution, from the earliest velocipedes (invented to fill the need for horseless transport during a shortage of oats) to modern racing bikes, mountain bikes, and recumbents. It traces the bicycle's development in terms of materials, ergonomics, and vehicle physics, as carried out by inventors, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers.

Written by two leading bicycle historians and generously illustrated with historic drawings, designs, and photographs, Bicycle Design describes the key stages in the evolution of the bicycle, beginning with the counterintuitive idea of balancing on two wheels in line, through the development of tension-spoked wheels, indirect drives (employing levers, pulleys, chains, and chainwheels), and pneumatic tires. The authors examine the further development of the bicycle for such specific purposes as racing, portability, and all-terrain use; and they describe the evolution of bicycle components including seats, transmission, brakes, lights (at first candle-based), and carriers (racks, panniers, saddlebags, child seats, and sidecars). They consider not only commercially successful designs but also commercial failures that pointed the way to future technological developments. And they debunk some myths about bicycles -- for example, the mistaken but often-cited idea that Leonardo sketched a chain-drive bike in his notebooks. Despite the bicycle's long history and mass appeal, its technological history has been neglected. This volume, with its engaging and wide-ranging coverage, fills that gap. It will be the starting point for all future histories of the bicycle.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262026758
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 03/21/2014
Pages: 584
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tony Hadland is the author of Raleigh: Past and Presence of an Iconic Brand and other books. He is based in Oxfordshire, U.K. Hans-Erhard Lessing, formerly Professor of Physics at the University of Ulm and curator at Technoseum Mannheim and ZKM Karlsruhe, has written biographies of Karl Drais and Robert Bosch as well as books on bicycle history books published in Germany.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

A Note on Spelling and on the Names of Components xvii

1 Velocipedes and Their Forerunners 1

Mobility before the velocipede 1

A shortage of oats necessitates horseless transport 8

Diffusion of the single-track velocipede 19

The clampdown on two-wheelers and the return to multi-track velocipedes 27

The first roller-skate patents 28

Stable velocipedes for anxious riders 30

The quadricycle years 31

Roller skating gains momentum 34

2 Front Drive 37

Unresolved questions about the origins of front drive 38

The French velocipede and its series production 53

Diffusion to Europe and America 63

Why not drive the rear wheel? Why not use steam or electric power? 71

3 Wire Wheels 83

The evolution of the high-wheeler 84

The high-wheeler 97

High-wheel tricycles 106

4 Indirect Drive 125

Lever-and-crank drives 126

Swinging-lever and linear drives 127

Belts and pulleys 130

Shaft drive 134

Spur-gear drive 144

Chain drive 148

Asymmetric chainwheels 151

5 The Safety Bicycle 155

Early attempts to produce a safer bicycle 156

Diamond-frame rear-drive safeties 160

Cross-frame rear-drive safeties 166

Dwarf front-drivers 169

The triumph of the diamond frame 170

Steel as a frame material 171

Other frame materials 178

Cycling spawns the airplane 184

6 Comfort 187

Tires 187

Sprung supports for saddles 200

Sprung handlebars 207

Wheel suspension 209

7 Improving Transmission 221

Evolution of the automatic freewheel 222

The early development of multi-speed gearing 229

Epicyclic gearing 236

Derailleurs 243

Automatic and continuously variable gears 247

8 Braking 257

Taking the heat out of speed 257

Tire brakes 258

Rim brakes 266

Brakes in or attached to the hub 279

9 Saddles, Pedals, and Handlebars 291

Saddles 291

Seat posts 298

Pedals 298

Handlebars 311

10 Lighting 321

Candle lanterns and oil lanterns 321

Battery-powered lamps 325

Acetylene lamps 328

Tire-driven dynamos 332

Early dynamo designs 332

Toward the dominance of the "bottle" dynamo 335

Hub dynamos 344

Spoke dynamos 347

Bottom-bracket (roller) dynamos 347

Battery backup 349

11 Luggage 351

Simple horizontal rear racks 353

Beam racks 358

Front racks 358

Fittings for sports equipment 361

Panniers 361

Baskets 365

Saddlebags 367

Handlebar bags 368

Rack-mounted holdalls 369

Tool bags 370

Child seats 370

Sidecars 376

Trailers 377

Cargo bikes 380

12 Racing Bicycles 385

The evolution of frame geometry 386

Horses for courses 388

Frame materials 393

Aerodynamics 400

Riding position and aero-bars 402

Other aerodynamic components 404

The effect of regulations 411

13 Military Bicycles 413

Early military use of bicycles 414

Design features of military bicycles 420

Folding or separable military cycles 423

14 Mountain Bikes 433

Origins 434

Advantages 436

Changes in suspension and in frames 438

Derivatives of mountain bikes 444

15 Small-Wheeled Bicycles 447

Early small-wheelers 448

Vélocio's experiments with small wheels 451

Early portable bicycles 454

British small-wheelers, 1960s-1980s 459

Folders 461

High-performance small-wheelers 465

Ultra-small wheels 466

BMX 469

Small-wheeled bicycles today 471

16 Recumbent Bicycles 473

Early recumbents 474

The recumbent boom of the 1930s 478

Recumbents after World War II 485

The recumbent revival of the 1970s and its aftermath 487

Appendix A Debunked Priority Hoaxes 493

Appendix B Davies's Lecture "On the Velocipede" (May 1837) and Spencer's Report of the Defeat of the Dandy or Hobby-Horse 503

Appendix C Bicycle Aesthetics 521

Appendix D The Parts of a Bicycle 527

Select Literature 529

References 537

Index 549

What People are Saying About This

Joachim Radkau

This is a uniquely comprehensive and carefully researched history of bicycle design written from an international perspective and abundantly illustrated. It stretches from the bicycle's pre-industrial origins to present innovations, covering features from brakes to the child seat. The seeming simplicity of the bicycle turns out to be the result of a long and complex history, which continues today. The bicycle -- presented in this book as the high-tech of the 19th century -- is now on the way to becoming the pioneer vehicle of the environmental age. In Bicycle Design, the development of this small human-powered machine is becoming big history.

David Gordon Wilson

The authors have given a far fuller and far more authoritative history of bicycles than has been accomplished previously. They have also laid to rest the many myths that have grown up in many so-called histories. The book is more comprehensive and more accurate than the several good histories of bicycles that have been produced in the last forty years.

Glen Norcliffe

The serendipitous pairing up of two of the world's leading experts on the history of cycling technology has resulted in this definitive book on bicycle design. This is a remarkably complete account of the numerous technical problems encountered over the past two centuries, and of the ways different generations of mechanics and constructors have chosen to solve these problems.

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