Let’s see some iconic vintage bicycles? This article’s about the significant evolution of the bicycles, to the ones that we see nowadays. But as always we are focused on the vintage, antique, industrial styles, simple industrial shapes combined with the mechanisms that work naturally, giving value to the long living of the product, and so the good quality. We can see that vintage products keep years of durability that we cannot see so frequently in nowadays objects. Here are some good ideas of the antique era that could be redesigned to new products that can be produced, transformed, giving other functionalities too.
The “Boneshaker Bicycle” – The first really popular and commercially successful design was French. An example is at the Museum of Science and Technology, Ottawa. Initially developed around 1863, it sparked a fashionable craze briefly during 1868-70. Its design was simpler than the Macmillan bicycle; it used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub. Pedaling made it easier for riders to propel the machine at speed, but the rotational speed limitation of this design created stability and comfort concerns which would lead to the large front wheel of the “penny-farthing”. It was difficult to pedal the wheel that was used for steering. The use of metal frames reduced the weight and provided sleeker, more elegant designs, and also allowed mass-production. Different braking mechanisms were used depending on the manufacturer. In England, the velocipede earned the name of “bone-shaker” because of its rigid frame and iron-banded wheels that resulted in a “bone-shaking experience for riders.”
The high-bicycle was the logical extension of the boneshaker, the front wheel enlarging to enable higher speeds (limited by the inside leg measurement of the rider), the rear wheel shrinking and the frame being made lighter. Frenchman Eugene Meyer is now regarded as the father of the High Bicycle by the ICHC in place of James Starley. Meyer invented the wire-spoke tension wheel in 1869 and produced a classic high bicycle design until the 1880s. James Starley in Coventry added the tangent spokes and the mounting step to his famous bicycle named “Ariel.” He is regarded as the father of the British cycling industry. Ball bearings, solid rubber tires, and hollow-section steel frames became standard, reducing weight and making the ride much smoother. Depending on the rider’s leg length, the front wheel could now have a diameter up to 60 in (1.5 m).
The development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle. It shifted their use and public perception from being a dangerous toy for sporting young men to being an everyday transport tool for men—and, crucially, women—of all ages. Aside from the obvious safety problems, the high-wheeler’s direct front wheel drive limited its top speed. Accordingly, inventors tried a rear wheel chain drive. Although Harry John Lawson invented a rear-chain-drive bicycle in 1879 with his “bicycle”, it still had a huge front the wheel and the small rear wheel. Detractors called it “The Crocodile”, and it failed in the market. John Kemp Starley, James’s nephew, produced the first successful “safety bicycle” (again a retrospective name), the “Rover,” in 1885, which he never patented. It featured a steerable front wheel that had a significant caster, equally sized wheels and a chain drive to the rear wheel.
The racing bikes – In the late 1960s, spurred by Americans’ increasing consciousness of the value of exercise and later the advantage of energy efficient transportation led to the American bike boom of the 1970s. Annual U.S. sales of adult bicycles doubled between 1960 and 1970, and doubled again between 1971 and 1975, the peak years of the adult cycling boom in the United States, eventually reaching nearly 17 million units. Most of these sales were to new cyclists, who overwhelmingly preferred models imitating popular European derailleur-equipped racing bikes, variously called sports models, sport/tourers, or simply ten-speeds. These lighter bicycles, long used by serious cyclists and by racers, featured dropped handlebars, narrow tires, derailleur gears, five to fifteen speeds, and a narrow ‘racing’ type saddle. By 1980, racing and sport/touring derailleur bikes dominated the market in North America.
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