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A road full of bicyclists.
Protesters cycling in Chamonix in 2003.
Four bicyclists next to each other, with bags on their bicycles.
Cyclists crossing Kansas in 1976.
A man with blue clothes and blue helmet on a mountainbike.
Police officer on a bicycle in El Salvador.

Cycling is an activity most commonly performed on a bicycle - when it is it is also referred to as bicycling or simply biking. It is the use of the bicycle, unicycle (unicycling), tricycles (tricycling), quadracycles (quadracycling), and other similar wheeled human-powered vehicles (HPVs) for the purpose of transport, as a form of recreation, or in racing. It is done on roads and paths, across open country or even over snow and ice (icebiking).

Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number about one billion worldwide.[1] They are the principal means of transportation in many regions.

Bicycling is a highly efficient mode of transportation[2] and optimal for short to moderate distances. Compared to motor vehicles, bicycles have numerous benefits including the provision of exercise, generating renewable energy and thus no air pollution, reducing traffic congestion, minimizing noise pollution (nearly silent operation), easier and less costly parking, much lower likelihood of causing a fatality, high maneuverability, ability to travel on roads or special paths, and lower user cost as well as societal costs (negligible damage to roads, and less pavement required).[3] Criticisms and downsides to cycling commonly include: reduced protection in crashes (including those with motor vehicles),[4] longer travel time (except in densely populated areas), no inherent protection from poor weather, difficulty in transporting passengers, and the physical demands of operation.




A black bicycle with nobody on it, carrying a bag, in front of a nature scene.
Utility bicycle featuring rear internal hub brake, chaincase and mudguards, kickstand for parking, permanently attached dynamo-powered lamps and upswept handlebars for a more comfortable grip position.
A man with sports clothes and a white helmet on a bicycle on a road.
Heavily equipped London commuter cyclist: specialist cycle clothing, pollution mask, dark glasses and helmet.

In many countries, the most commonly used vehicle for road transport is a utility bicycle. These have frames with relaxed geometry, protecting the rider from shocks from the road, and easing steering at low speeds.

Road bikes tend to have a more upright shape and a shorter wheelbase, which make the bike more mobile but harder to ride slowly. The design, coupled with low or dropped handlebars, requires the rider to bend forward more, utilizing stronger muscles and reducing air resistance at high speed.

The price of a new bicycle can range from US$50 to more than US$20,000 (the highest priced bike in the world is the custom Madone by Damien Hirst, sold at $500,000 USD,[5] depending on quality, type and weight (the most exotic road bicycles can weigh as little as 3.2 kg (7 lb)[6]). Being measured for a bike and taking it for a test ride are recommended before buying.

The drivetrain components of the bike should also be considered. A middle grade dérailleur is sufficient for a beginner, although many utility bikes come equipped with hub gears. If the rider plans a significant amount of hillclimbing, a triple-crank (three chainrings) front gear system may be preferred. Otherwise, the relatively lighter and less expensive two chainrings may be better. Much simpler fixed wheel bikes are also available, and may be more suitable for commuters.

Many road bikes along with mountain bikes include clipless pedals to which special shoes attach, via a cleat, permitting the rider to pull on the pedals as well as push. Other possible accessories for the bicycle include headlights and brake lights, bells or horns, disc brakes, child carrying seats, cycling computers with GPS, locks, bar tape, fenders, baggage racks, baggage carriers and pannier bags, water bottles and bottle cages.

For basic maintenance and repairs, cyclists can choose to carry a pump (or a CO2 cartridge), a puncture repair kit, a spare inner tube, and tire levers. Cycling can be more efficient and comfortable with special shoes, gloves, and shorts. In wet weather, riding can be more tolerable with waterproof clothes, such as cape, jacket, pants and overshoes.

Items legally required in some jurisdictions, or voluntarily adopted for safety reasons, include bicycle helmets, generator or battery operated lights, reflectors, and audible signaling devices such as a bell or horn. Extras include studded tires and a bicycle computer.

Bikes can also be heavily customized, with different seat designs and handle bars, for example. The British art critic and presenter of the South Bank show, Melvyn Bragg, is a keen cycling enthusiast having customised his stunt racing bike with handle bar tassles, tubeless tires, and even icons of the A team, which appear with a flick of a switch.


Learning to ride efficiently and safely in traffic is important. In the United Kingdom, many primary school children took the Cycling Proficiency Test, to help them cycle more safely. However, the Cycling Proficiency Test has now been superseded, for children, by 'Bikeability' and the National Standards for Cycle Training. In countries such as the Netherlands, where cycling is popular, cyclists sometimes ride in bike lanes at the side of, or separate from, main highways and roads. Many primary schools participate in the national road test in which children individually complete a circuit on roads near the school while being observed by testers.




Hundreds of bicycles, grouped in rectangular parking places with driving paths in between.
A parking lot for bicycles in Niigata, Niigata, Japan.

Cyclists, pedestrians and motorists make different demands on road design which may lead to conflicts. Some jurisdictions give priority to motorized traffic, for example setting up one-way street systems, free-right turns, high capacity roundabouts, and slip roads. Others may apply traffic restraint measures to limit the impact of motorized transport. In the former cases, cycling has tended to decline while in the latter it has tended to be maintained. Occasionally, extreme measures against cycling may occur. In Shanghai, where bicycles were once the dominant mode of transport, bicycle travel on a few city roads was banned temporarily in December 2003.

In areas in which cycling is popular and encouraged, cycle-parking facilities using bicycle stands, lockable mini-garages, and patrolled cycle parks are used in order to reduce theft. Local governments promote cycling by permitting the carriage of bicycles on public transport or by providing external attachment devices on public transport vehicles. Conversely, an absence of secure cycle-parking is a recurring complaint by cyclists from cities with low modal share of cycling.

Extensive bicycle path systems may be found in some cities. Such dedicated paths often have to be shared with in-line skaters, scooters, skateboarders, and pedestrians. Segregating bicycle and automobile traffic in cities has met with mixed success, both in terms of safety and bicycle promotion. At some point the two streams of traffic inevitably intersect, often in a haphazard and congested fashion. Studies have demonstrated that, due to the high incidence of accidents at these sites, some such segregated schemes can actually increase the number of car-bike collisions.[7]

Bicycles are considered a sustainable mode of transport, especially suited for urban use and relatively shorter distances when used for transport (compared to recreation). Case studies and good practices (from European cities and some worldwide examples) that promote and stimulate this kind of functional cycling in cities can be found at Eltis, Europe's portal for local transport.

In the Netherlands bicycle paths are widespread and are (in the cities) closed to scooters. Cyclists in the Netherlands are well protected as the law assumes the stronger participant (i.e. the car driver) is guilty until proved innocent (ie is the guilty party in all accidents involving weaker traffic unless evidence of the opposite is provided). Furthermore, drivers know to expect bikes, which are plentiful. Due to these issues the number of car-bike collisions with serious consequences is not alarmingly high in the Netherlands


A bicycle loaded with so many green fruits that the rear wheel can not be seen.
A bicycle loaded with tender coconut for sale. Karnataka, India.

Utility cycling refers both to cycling as a mode of daily commuting transport as well as the use of a bicycle in a commercial activity, mainly to transport goods.

The postal services of many countries have long relied on bicycles. The British Royal Mail first started using bicycles in 1880; now bicycle delivery fleets include 37,000 in the UK, 25,700 in Germany, 10,500 in Hungary and 7000 in Sweden. The London Ambulance Service has recently introduced bicycling paramedics, who can often get to the scene of an incident in Central London more quickly than a motorized ambulance.

Late in the 20th century, urban police bicycles became more common, as the mobility of car-borne officers was increasingly limited by traffic congestion and pedestrianisation.

Bicycles enjoy substantial use as general delivery vehicles in many countries. In the UK and North America, generations of teenagers have got their first jobs delivering newspapers by bicycle. London has many delivery companies that use bicycles with trailers. Most cities in the West, and many outside it, support a sizeable and visible industry of cycle couriers who deliver documents and small packages. In India, many of Mumbai's Dabbawalas use bicycles to deliver home cooked lunches to the city’s workers. In Bogotá, Colombia the city’s largest bakery recently replaced most of its delivery trucks with bicycles. Even the car industry uses bicycles. At the huge Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen, Germany workers use bicycles, color-coded by department, to move around the factory.


Bicycle Touring
A white bicycle parked in the grass.
In the Netherlands, bicycles are freely available for use in the Hoge Veluwe National Park

Bicycles are used for recreation at all ages. Bicycle touring, also known as cyclotourism, involves touring and exploration or sightseeing by bicycle for leisure. A brevet or randonnée is an organized long-distance ride.

One popular Dutch pleasure is the enjoyment of relaxed cycling in the countryside of the Netherlands. The land is very flat and full of public bicycle trails where cyclists aren't bothered by cars and other traffic, which makes it ideal for cycling recreation. Many Dutch people subscribe every year to an event called fietsvierdaagse — four days of organised cycling through the local environment. Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), which began in 1891, is the oldest bicycling event still run on a regular basis on the open road, covers over 1200 km and imposes a 90-hour time limit. Similar if smaller institutions exist in many countries.

Organized rides
Many bicyclists with colorful clothes
Tour de Fat group ride in Portland, Oregon

Many cycling clubs hold organized rides in which bicyclists of all levels participate. The typical organized ride starts with a large group of riders, called the mass, bunch or even peloton. This will thin out over the course of the ride. Many riders choose to ride together in groups of the same skill level to take advantage of drafting.

Most organized rides, for example Cyclosportives, Challenge Rides or reliability trials, and hill climbs include registration requirements and will provide information either through the mail or online concerning start times and other requirements. Rides usually consist of 25, 50 and 100 mile routes, each with a certain number of rest stops that usually include refreshments, first aid and maintenance tools.


Mountain biking grew in the late 20th century, including recreation and racing. Most mountain biking takes place on dirt roads, trails and in purpose-built parks. Downhill mountain biking has just evolved in the recent years and is performed at places such as Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Slopestyle, a form of downhill, is when riders do tricks such as tailwhips, 360s, backflips and frontflips.


A black-and-white picture of a man on an old bicycle. Another man is holding or pushing the bicycle.
Bicycle racing in 1909.
A bunch of bicyclist following a car.
The professional peloton racing across the Golden Gate Bridge

Shortly after the introduction of bicycles, competitions developed independently in many parts of the world. Early races involving boneshaker style bicycles were predictably fraught with injuries. Large races became popular during the 1890s "Golden Age of Cycling", with events across Europe, and in the U.S. and Japan as well. At one point, almost every major city in the US had a velodrome or two for track racing events. However since the middle of the 20th century cycling has become a minority sport in the US whilst in Continental Europe it continues to be a major sport, particularly in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The most famous of all bicycle races is the Tour de France. This began in 1903, and continues to capture the attention of the sporting world.

In 1899, Mile-a-Minute Murphy became the first man to ride his bicycle a mile in under a minute, which he did by drafting a locomotive at New York's Long Island.

As the bicycle evolved its various forms, different racing formats developed. Road races may involve both team and individual competition, and are contested in various ways. They range from the one-day road race, criterium, and time trial to multi-stage events like the Tour de France and its sister events which make up cycling's Grand Tours. Recumbent bicycles were banned from bike races in 1934 after Marcel Berthet set a new hour record in his Velodyne streamliner (49.992 km on November 18, 1933). Track bicycles are used for track cycling in Velodromes , while cyclo-cross races are held on rugged outdoor terrain, which is performed on road, grass, and mud. Riders in cyclocross must get off their bikes at certain intervals and hop over barriers. In the past decade, mountain bike racing has also reached international popularity and is even an Olympic sport.

Professional racing organizations place limitations on the bicycles that can be used in the races that they sanction. For example, the Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body of international cycle sport (which sanctions races such as the Tour de France), decided in the late 1990s to create additional rules which prohibit racing bicycles weighing less than 6.8 kilograms (14.96 pounds). The UCI rules also effectively ban some bicycle frame innovations (such as the recumbent bicycle) by requiring a double triangle structure.[8]


The bicycle is not suited for combat, but it has been used as a method of reconnaissance as well as transporting soldiers and supplies to combat zones. In this it has taken over many of the functions of horses in warfare. In the Second Boer War, both sides used bicycles for scouting. In World War I, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand used bicycles to move troops. In its 1937 invasion of China, Japan employed some 50,000 bicycle troops, and similar forces were instrumental in Japan's march or "roll" through Malaysia in World War II. Germany used bicycles again in World War II, while the British employed airborne "Cycle-commandos" with folding bikes.

In the Vietnam War, communist forces used bicycles extensively as cargo carriers along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The last country known to maintain a regiment of bicycle troops was Switzerland, who disbanded their final unit in 2003.


Two broad and correlated themes run in bicycle activism: one is about advocating the bicycle as an alternative mode of transport, and the other is about the creation of conditions to permit and/or encourage bicycle use, both for utility and recreative cycling. Although the first, which emphasizes the potential for energy and resource conservation and health benefits gained from cycling versus automobile use, is relatively undisputed, the second is the subject of much debate.

Many cyclists on a road, all going in the same direction.
San Francisco Critical Mass, April 29, 2005.

It is generally agreed that improved local and inter-city rail services and other methods of mass transportation (including greater provision for cycle carriage on such services) create conditions to encourage bicycle use. However, there are different opinions on the role of the use of segregated cycle facilities and other items of the cycling infrastructure in building bicycle-friendly cities and roads.

Some bicycle activists (including some traffic management advisers) seek the construction of segregated cycle facilities for journeys of all lengths. Other activists, especially those from the more established tradition, view the safety, practicality, and intent of many segregated cycle facilities with suspicion. They favour a more holistic approach based on the 4 'E's; education (of everyone involved), encouragement (to apply the education), enforcement (to protect the rights of others), and engineering (to facilitate travel while respecting every person's equal right to do so). In some cases this opposition has a more ideological basis: some members of the Vehicular Cycling movement oppose segregated public facilities, such as on-street bike lanes, on principle. Some groups offer training courses to help cyclists integrate themselves with other traffic. This is part of the ongoing cycle path debate.

Critical Mass is an event typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists take to the streets en masse. While the ride was originally founded with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to bicyclists, the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city streets.

There is a long-running cycle helmet debate among activists. The most heated controversy surrounds the topic of compulsory helmet use.


A group of people standing with their bicycles.
Cyclists assemble for a ride organised by the London Cycling Campaign.

Cyclists form associations, both for specific interests (trails development, road maintenance, urban design, racing clubs, touring clubs, etc.) and for more global goals (energy conservation, pollution reduction, promotion of fitness). Some bicycle clubs and national associations became prominent advocates for improvements to roads and highways. In the United States, the League of American Wheelmen lobbied for the improvement of roads in the last part of the 19th century, founding and leading the national Good Roads Movement. Their model for political organization, as well as the paved roads for which they argued, facilitated the growth of the automobile.

As a sport, cycling is governed internationally by the Union Cycliste Internationale in Switzerland (for upright bicycles) and by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (for other HPVs, or human-powered vehicles). Cycling for transport and touring is promoted on a European level by the European Cyclists' Federation, with associated members from Great Britain, Japan and elsewhere. Regular conferences on cycling as transport are held under the auspices of Velo City; global conferences are coordinated by Velo Mondial.[9]



The physical exercise gained from cycling is generally linked with increased health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is second only to tobacco smoking as a health risk in developed countries, and this is associated with many tens of billions of dollars of healthcare costs.[10] The WHO's report[11] suggests that increasing physical activity is a public health 'best buy', and that cycling is a 'highly suitable activity' for this purpose. The charity Sustrans reports that investment in cycling provision can give a 20:1 return from health and other benefits.[12] It has been estimated that, on average, approximately 20 life-years are gained from the health benefits of road bicycling for every life-year lost through injury.[13]

Bicycles are often used by people seeking to improve their fitness and cardiovascular health. In this regard, cycling is especially helpful for those with arthritis of the lower limbs who are unable to pursue sports that cause impact to the knees and other joints. Since cycling can be used for the practical purpose of transportation, there can be less need for self-discipline to exercise. Interestingly, it has been found that despite toning the leg muscles, cycling also tones the buttocks.

Cycling while seated is a relatively non-weight bearing exercise that, like swimming, does little to promote bone density.[14] Cycling up and out of the saddle, on the other hand, does a better job by transferring more of the rider's body weight to the legs. However, excessive cycling while standing can cause knee damage. It used to be thought that cycling while standing was less energy efficient, but recent research has proven this not to be true. Other than air resistance, there is no wasted energy from cycling while standing if it is done correctly.[15]

Cycling on a stationary cycle is frequently advocated as a suitable exercise for rehabilitation, particularly for lower limb injury due to the low impact that it has on the joints. In particular cycling is commonly used within knee rehabilitation programs.[16]

As a response to the increased global sedentarity and consequent overweight and obesity, one response that has been adopted by many organizations concerned with health and environment is the promotion of Active travel, which seeks to promote walking and cycling as safe and attractive alternatives to motorized transport. Given that many journeys are for relatively short distances, there is considerable scope to replace car use with walking or cycling, though in many setting this may require some infrastructure modification, particularly to attract the less experienced and confident.


A statue, covered with flowers.
Virgin Mary venerated as the holy protector of bicyclists on the roads of the mountainous Basque Country

Cycling is seen by some to be an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity although use of appropriate safety equipment and obedience of road rules can reduce risk of serious injury. In the UK, fatality rates per mile or kilometre are slightly less than those for walking.[17][18] In the US, bicycling fatality rates are less than 2/3 of those walking the same distance.[19][20] For a child cyclist the rate per mile or kilometre travelled is around 55 times that for a child occupant of a car, while the fatality and serious injury rates per hour of travel are just over double for cycling than for walking (due to the reduced travel time), in the UK.[18] It should be noted that calculated fatality rates based on distance for bicycling (as well as for walking) can have an exceptionally large margin of error, since there are generally no annual registrations or odometers required for bicycles (as there are with motor vehicles), and this means the distance traveled must be estimated.

Most cycle deaths result from a collision with a car or heavy goods vehicle, both motorist and cyclist have been found responsible for collisions [21][22][23] However, a very high proportion of non-fatal injuries to cyclists do not involve any other person or vehicle.

A Danish study in 2000 concluded that "bicycling to work decreased risk of mortality in approximately 40% after multivariate adjustment, including leisure time physical activity".[24] This conclusion is open to various interpretations.

Injuries (to cyclists, from cycling) can be divided into two types:

Acute physical trauma includes injuries to the head and extremities resulting from falls and collisions. Since a large percentage of the collisions between motor and pedal vehicles occur at night, bicycle lighting is required for safety when bicycling at night.

The most common cycling overuse injury occurs in the knees, affecting cyclists at all levels. These are caused by many factors:[25]

  • Incorrect bicycle fit or adjustment, particularly the saddle.
  • Incorrect adjustment of clipless pedals.
  • Too many hills, or too many miles, too early in the training season.
  • Poor training preparation for long touring rides.
  • Selecting too high a gear. A lower gear for uphill climb protects the knees, even though your muscles are well able to handle a higher gear.

Excessive saddle height can cause posterior knee pain, while setting the saddle too low can cause pain in the anterior of the knee. An incorrectly fitted saddle may eventually lead to muscle imbalance. A 25 to 35 degree knee angle is recommended to avoid an overuse injury.[26]

Overuse injuries, including chronic nerve damage at weight bearing locations, can occur as a result of repeatedly riding a bicycle for extended periods of time. Damage to the ulnar nerve in the palm, carpal tunnel in the wrist, the genitourinary tract[27] or bicycle seat neuropathy[28] may result from overuse. Recumbent bicycles are designed on different ergonomic principles and eliminate pressure from the saddle and handlebars, due to the relaxed riding position.

Note that overuse is a relative term, and capacity varies greatly between individuals. Someone starting out in cycling must be careful to increase length and frequency of cycling sessions slowly, starting for example at an hour or two per day, or a hundred miles or kilometers per week. Muscular pain is a normal by-product of the training process, but joint pain and numbness are early signs of overuse injury.

Cycling has been linked to sexual impotence due to pressure on the perineum from the seat, but fitting a proper sized seat prevents this effect.[29][30] In extreme cases, Pudendal Nerve Entrapment can be a source of intractable perineal pain.[31] Some cyclists with induced pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy gained relief from improvements in saddle position and riding techniques.[32]

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has investigated the potential health effects of prolonged bicycling in police bicycle patrol units, including the possibility that some bicycle saddles exert excessive pressure on the urogenital area of cyclists, restricting blood flow to the genitals. NIOSH is investigating whether saddles developed without protruding noses (which remove the pressure from the urogenital area) will alleviate any potential health problems.[33]

A Spanish study of top triathletes found those who cover more than 186 miles (300 km) a week on their bikes have less than 4% normal looking sperm.[34]

Despite rumors to the contrary, there is no scientific evidence linking cycling with testicular cancer in men.[35]

Air pollution

One concern often expressed (both by non-cyclists and some cyclists) is the thought that riding in traffic exposes the cyclist to higher levels of air pollution, especially if he travels on or along busy roads. This has been shown to be untrue, as the pollutant and irritant count within cars is consistently higher,[36] (presumably because of limited circulation of air within the car and due to the air intake being directly in the stream of other traffic).

See also


Cycling Culture

Cycling Advocacy & Safety

Sports-related cycling and fast-paced recreation

Utility cycling and slow recreation



  1. ^ There are about a billion or more bicycles in the world.. Retrieved 30 July 2006.
  2. ^ "HowStuffWorks "Is there a way to compare a human being to an engine in terms of efficiency?"". Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  3. ^ "A Case for Bicycle Commuting". Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  4. ^ Wardlaw MJ (2000). "Three lessons for a better cycling future". BMJ 321 (7276): 1582–5. doi:10.1136/bmj.321.7276.1582. PMID 11124188.  
  5. ^ Custom Bike Builders: Groupe de Tete -
  6. ^ SPIN Custom...7.04 lbs
  7. ^ "Bicycling Life"
  8. ^ Union Cycliste International (2003). "UCI Cycling Regulations" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-08-04.  
  9. ^ Welkom bij XS4ALL
  10. ^ "Overweight and Obesity: Economic Consequences". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  11. ^ "A PHYSICALLY ACTIVE LIFE THROUGH EVERYDAY TRANSPORT" (PDF). World health Organisation. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  12. ^ "How transport can save the NHS". Archived from the original on 2007-03-12.  
  13. ^ British Medical Association; Mayhew Hillman, David Morgan (1992). Cycling: Towards Health and Safety. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286151-4.  
  14. ^ Nichols JF, Palmer JE, Levy SS (August 2003). "Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists". Osteoporos Int 14 (8): 644–9. doi:10.1007/s00198-003-1418-z. PMID 12856112.  
  15. ^ "Sit or Stand: Tradeoffs in Efficiency?". [1]. November 21, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  16. ^ "Cycling for Knee Rehabilitation".  
  17. ^ "Department for Transport - Road Casualties Great Britain 2007". Department for Transport. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  18. ^ a b "Road Casualties Great Britain 2007 - Annual Report (page 82, "Fatality rates by mode of travel")" (PDF). Department for Transport.  
  19. ^ "Daily Travel by Walking and Bicycling". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  20. ^ "Fatality Analysis Reporting System". National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  21. ^ "Cycling in Great Britain". Department of Transport. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  22. ^ "44 tonne articulated trucks and towns don't mix". Cambridge Cycling Campaign UK. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  23. ^ "Lorries and Towns Don't Mix (video)". Robert Webb.  
  24. ^ Andersen LB, Schnohr P, Schroll M, Hein HO (June 2000). "All-cause mortality associated with physical activity during leisure time, work, sports, and cycling to work". Arch. Intern. Med. 160 (11): 1621–8. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.11.1621. PMID 10847255. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  25. ^ "Knee Pain in Cycling: New Twist on an old Injury". BioMechanics. July/August, 1996. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2006-11-24.  
  26. ^ "Avoid Repetitive Knee Injuries While Riding A Bike".  
  27. ^ Leibovitch I, Mor Y (March 2005). "The vicious cycling: bicycling related urogenital disorders". Eur. Urol. 47 (3): 277–86; discussion 286–7. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2004.10.024. PMID 15716187.  
  28. ^ "Bicycle Seat Neuropathy, follow up". eMedicine. February 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-20.  
  29. ^ "Cycle of despair". BBC News. 1998-08-12. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  30. ^ "Cycling linked to impotence". BBC News. 1999-06-07. Retrieved 2009-09-29.  
  31. ^ Ramsden CE, McDaniel MC, Harmon RL, Renney KM, Faure A (June 2003). "Pudendal nerve entrapment as source of intractable perineal pain". Am J Phys Med Rehabil 82 (6): 479–84. doi:10.1097/00002060-200306000-00013. PMID 12820792.  
  32. ^ Silbert PL, Dunne JW, Edis RH, Stewart-Wynne EG (1991). "Bicycling induced pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy". Clin Exp Neurol 28: 191–6. PMID 1821826.  
  33. ^ "NIOSH -Bicycle Saddles and Reproductive Health". United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved 2007-10-10.  
  34. ^ BBC: Elite cyclists 'risk infertility'
  35. ^ "Testiclar Cancer Fact Sheet" (PDF). Monash Institute of Medical Research. Retrieved 2008-09-30.  
  36. ^ Chertok M, Voukelatos A, Sheppeard V, Rissel C (2004). "Comparison of air pollution exposure for five commuting modes in Sydney – car, train, bus, bicycle and walking" (PDF). Health Promot. J. Austr. 15 (1). Retrieved 2009-09-29.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes about cycling and bicycles.

Cycling is a recreation, a sport and a means of transport across land. It involves riding bicycles, unicycles, tricycles and other human powered vehicles (HPVs). A bicycle is a pedal-driven land vehicle with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other.


  • I want to die at a hundred years old with an American flag on my back and the star of Texas on my helmet, after screaming down an Alpine descent on a bicycle at 75 miles per hour. I want to cross one last finish line as my stud wife and my ten children applaud, and then I want to lie down in a field of those famous French sunflowers and gracefully expire, the perfect contradiction to my once anticipated poignant early demise.
  • It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them.... Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.
    • Ernest Hemingway , White, William, ed (1967). By-Line, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades by Ernest Hemingway. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 364.  
  • Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.
  • I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all earn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life -- it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.
    • Frances E. Willard, How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle (1895)

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up cycling in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CYCLING, the clipped term now given comprehensively to the sport or exercise of riding a bicycle or tricycle.

Suggestions of vehicles having two or more wheels and propelled by the muscular effort of the rider or riders are to be found in very early times, even on the bas-reliefs of Egypt and Babylon and the frescoes of Pompeii; but though sporadic examples of such contrivances are recorded in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was apparently not till the beginning of the 19th century that they were used to any considerable extent. A " velocipede " invented by Blanchard and Magurier, and described in the Journal de Paris on the 27th of July 1779, differed little from the celeri fere proposed by another Frenchman, de Sivrac, in 1690; it consisted of a wooden bar rigidly connecting two wheels placed one in front of the other, and was propelled by the rider, seated astride the bar, pushing against the ground with his feet. The next advance was made in the draisine of Freiherr Karl Drais von Sauerbronn (1785-1851), described in his Abbildung and Beschreibung seiner neu erfundenen Laufmaschine (Nuremberg, 1817). In this the front wheel was pivoted on the frame so that it could be turned sideways by a handle, thus serving to steer the machine (figs. 1 and 2). A similar machine, the " celeripede," also with a movable front wheel, is said to have been ridden by J. N. Niepce in Paris some years before. In England the draisine achieved a great, though temporary, vogue under various names, such as velocipede, patent accelerator, bivector, bicipedes, pedestrian curricle (patented by Dennis Johnson in 1818), dandy horse, hobby horse, &c., and for a time it was popular in America also. The propulsion of the draisine by pushing with the feet being alleged to give rise to diseases of the legs, arrangements were soon suggested, as by Louis Gompertz in England in 1821, by which the front wheel could be rotated by the hands with the aid of a system of gearing, but the idea of providing mechanical connexions between the feet and the wheels was apparently not thought of till later. Pedals with connecting rods working on the rear axle are said to have been applied to a tricycle in 1834 by Kirkpatrick McMillan, a Scottish blacksmith of Keir, Dumfriesshire, and to a draisine by him in 1840, and by a Scottish cooper, Gavin Dalzell, of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, about 1845. The draisine thus fitted had wooden wheels, with iron FIG. I. - Gentleman's Hobby Horse. tires, the leading one about 30 in. in diameter and the driving one about 40 in., and thus it formed the prototype, though not the ancestor, of the modern rear-driven safety bicycle.

For the next 20 years little was done, and then began the evolution of the high " ordinary " bicycle with a large driving wheel in front and a small trailing one behind. About 1865 Pierre Lallement in Paris constructed a bicycle in which the front wheel was driven by pedals and cranks attached directly to its axle, but it is doubtful whether the origin of this idea must be attributed to him or to Ernest Michaux,the son of his employer, who was a carriage repairer. Lallement took his machine to the United States, and in 1866 was granted a patent which had an important influence on the subsequent course of the cycle industry in that country. This machine, consisting of a wooden frame supported on two wooden wheels (fig. 3), soon became popular in England, as well as in France and America, and came to be called bicycle (or bysicle) by those who took it seriously and " boneshaker " by those who did not. Improvements quickly followed, chiefly in England, for in America the popularity of the machine was short-lived, and in France the industry was checked by the FrancoGerman war. Rubber tires, in place of iron ones, appeared in 1868, and in two or three years were made very large, 2 in. or more in width. Suspension wheels, with wire spokes in tension, were seen at the Crystal Palace, London, on the " Phantom " (fig. 4) of W. F. Reynolds and J. A. Mays in 1869, and early in the same year the manufacture of bicycles, at first for export to France, was begun in England by the Coventry Sewing Machine Company, till then makers of sewing machines. There was a rapid growth in the size of the front wheel, which in the boneshaker normally measured 36 or 38 in. in diameter, with a corresponding shrinkage in the rear wheel (fig. 5), until by 1874, the date of the invention of the tangent wheel by J. K. Starley 54-in. wheels were being made. The high bicycle was now fairly established in form, and the changes made in the subsequent io or 15 years during which it retained its supremacy were chiefly in the details of construction, such as the adoption of steel tubing for the frames, the use of hollow rims in the wheels and the application first of cone and then of ball bearings to points of friction. The weight of a 54-in. bicycle, which in 1874-1875 exceeded 50 or even 60 lb, was thus reduced to well under 40 lb in machines intended for use on ordinary roads, and to not much over 20 lb in the case of racers. The high " ordinary " bicycle (fig. 6) gave unquestionable pleasure to many riders, and very fast times were made with it both on the roa d and on the racing path. In 1882 H. L. Cortis rode 20 m. 300 yds. in one hour, and in April 1884 FIG. 5. - Humber's " Spider," 1872. Thomas Stevens started from San Francisco to ride round the world, a feat which he accomplished in December 1886. But it had various disadvantages. The vibration set up by the small hack wheel was very trying, and in spite of the size of the front one the rider had to move his pedals at an uncomfortably rapid rate if he wished to maintain a good speed. Moreover his seat was placed in such a position that he was liable to be pitched over the handlebar if his wheel encountered a comparatively small obstacle. Attempts were made to remedy these inconveniences in various ways. From the early 'eighties much attention was devoted to tricycles, and these were produced in innumerable designs, whether for a single rider, or for two in the form of "sociables," in which the riders sat side by side, or of " tandems," in which one sat behind the other. But their weight, and consequently the exertion of propelling them, was FIG. 6. - Rudge Racing Ordinary, 1887. necessarily greater than in the case of the bicycle, and by the end of the decade, the demand for them had fallen off, though they are still made to a certain extent, chiefly for carrying purposes. The two-track dicycle (fig. 7), invented by E. C. F. Otto about 1879, in which the rider balanced himself between two equal wheels placed abreast, also failed to secure lasting success.

The improvement of the high bicycle was attempted in two directions. On the one hand it was modified by placing the rider farther back, his position " over his work " being ensured by arranging the pedals immediately below him and connecting them to the front wheel, which was usually reduced in size, by levers and cranks or by chain-gearing, often with a multiplying action. On the other, the rear wheel was enlarged and made the driving wheel. The " ' Xtraordinary " (fig. 8), " Facile " (fig. 9) and " Kangaroo " were examples of the former kind, which were often spoken of as " dwarf-safeties "; but though a good many of them were used about 1880 and following years, both they and the "ordinary" FIG. 7. - Otto Dicycle, 1879. bicycle ultimately disappeared be fore machines of the second kind, which developed into modern rear-driven safety. There are numerous claimants for the invention - or rather the reinvention - of this type, FIG. 2. - Lady's Hobby Horse.

FIG. 3. - The Boneshaker, 1868.

FIG. 4. - The " Phantom," 1869.

the but it appears that the credit for its practical and commercial introduction in substantially its present form is due to J. K. Starley in England. His " Rover " (fig. io), brought out late in 1885, had two nearly equal wheels, the driving wheel 30 in. in diameter and the steering 32 in., and the rider sat so far back that he could not be thrown forward over the handles. The motion imparted by the pedals to a sprocket wheel mounted between the wheels was transmitted by an endless chain to the rear wheel, and by sufficiently increasing the size of this sprocket wheel the machine could be made to travel as far or farther than the " ordinary " for each complete revolution of the pedals. From about 1890 the " safety " monopolized the field. At first it was fitted with the narrow rubber tires customary at the time, but these gave way to pneumatic tires, invented in 1888 by J. B. Dunlop, a veterinary surgeon of Belfast, whose idea, however, had been anticipated in the English patent taken out by R. W. Thomson in 1845. The result was a great gain in comfort, due to reduction of vibration, and a remarkable increase of speed or, alternatively, decrease of exertion. Subsequent progress was mainly in the details of design and manufacture, tending to secure lightness combined with adequate strength, and such was the success attained, by the application of scientific principles and of improved methods and materials to the construction of the frames and other parts, that while the weight of the original " Rover " was about so lb, that of its successors 20 years later with 28-in. wheels was reduced by 35 or 45%, or even 60% in the case of racing machines. The beginning of the 10th century saw the introduction of two innovations: one was the " free-wheel," a device which allows the driving wheel to rotate independently of the chain and pedals, so that the rider, controlling his speed with powerful brakes, can " coast " down a hill using the stationary pedals as foot-rests; and the other was the motor-cycle, in which a petrolengine relieves him, except at starting, from all personal exertion, though at the cost of considerable vibration. A third contrivance, which, however, was an idea of considerably older date, also began to find favour about the same period in the shape of two-speed and three-speed gears, enabling the rider at will to alter the ratio between the speed of revolution of his pedals and of his driving wheel, and thereby accommodate himself to the varying gradients of the road he is traversing (see also Bicycle, Tricycle and Tire) .

The safety bicycle, with FIG. Io. - Starley's " Rover," 1885. pneumatic tires, rendered cycling universally popular, not merely as a pastime but as a convenient means of locomotion for everyday use. Made with a dropframe, it also enabled women to cycle without being confined to a heavy tricycle or compelled to assume " rational dress." In consequence there was an enormous expansion in the cycle industry. In England the demand for machines had become so great by 1895 that the makers were unable to cope with it. Numbers of new factories were started, small shops grew into large companies, and the capital invested advanced by millions of pounds. The makers who had devoted their mechanical skill to perfecting the methods of cycle-construction were swallowed up by company promoters and adventurers, bent simply upon filling their own pockets. The march of mechanical invention and improvement was arrested, and machines, instead of being built by mechanics proud of their work, in many cases were merely put together in the shortest possible time and in a few standard patterns. For these the world clamoured, and for a year they could not be produced fast enough. Then the demand fell off, the British market became over-stocked, and as the British makers declined to consider the wants of foreign customers, their store-rooms remained crowded with machines that could not be sold. Speculative finance, such as was exemplified in 1896 by the flotation for 5,000,000 of the Dunlop tire company, which had been started in 1889 with a capital of 25,000, had its natural effects. There ensued widespread and continuing disorganization of the trade, which had to be met by extensive reconstructions of over-capitalized companies. English makers too had lost the commanding international position they once enjoyed, when they supplied almost the entire demand for bicycles in many parts of the world, including the United States. In America the manufacture of bicycles was not begun until about 1878, when it was introduced by A. A. Pope (1843-1909), and even by 1890 the value of the products barely exceeded 2 2 million dollars, while for several years later much of the steel tubing required for bicycle manufacture continued to be imported from Great Britain. The industry, however, thanks to automatic machinery and perfect organization, grew rapidly, and in 1900 the value of its products was nearly 32 million dollars. In the two years 1897 and 1898 the exports of cycles and cycle parts alone were worth nearly 14 million dollars, though they fell off in subsequent years, and English makers had to contend with an American invasion in addition to their domestic troubles. But the competition was short-lived. The American makers sent over machines with single tube tires and wooden rims which did not secure the approval of the British purchaser, and so they too lost their hold. In the opening years of the 10th century the industry in Great Britain gradually recovered itself. More attention was paid to the production of cheap machines which were sound and trustworthy, and sales were further stimulated by the introduction of systems of deferred payments. In 1905 about 600,000 machines were made in Great Britain, and 47,604 were exported, the total value of the home-market for cycles and their parts being about 3-1millions sterling, and of the export trade about one million. In the same year the number of machines imported was only 2345.

Cycle tours were taken and cycle clubs established almost as soon as the cycle appeared, the Pickwick Bicycle Club in London, founded in 1870, being the oldest in the world. The organization of these clubs is chiefly of Touring g y clubs. a social character, and a few possess well-appointed club-houses. To a great extent they have been superseded by the large touring organizations. The Cyclists' Touring Club, organized in 1878 as the Bicycle Touring Club, has members scattered through Europe, America and even the East. Many other countries possess national clubs, as for instance the League of American Wheelmen, founded in 1880, and the Touring Club de France, founded in 1895, of whose objects cycling is only one, though the chief. The aim of these national associations, which have formed an international touring league, is the promotion of cycle touring. To this end they publish roadbooks, maps and journals; they recommend hotels, with fixed tariffs, in their own and other countries; they appoint representatives to aid their members when touring; and they have succeeded in inducing most governments to allow their members to travel freely across frontiers without paying duty on their machines. In all countries they have erected warning-boards at dangerous places; in France the best route is suggested by a sign-post, and cyclists who meet with accidents in lonely places find repair outfits provided for their free use. Another important part of the work of these clubs, either directly or indirectly, is the improvement of the roads. France has done more for the cyclist than any other country, owing to the fact FIG. 8. - Singers' " 'Xtraordinary," 1879.

FIG. 9. - The " Facile," 1879.

that she possesses the best roads, kept up to a certain extent by the cycle tax, whereby the cyclist acquires a certain official position and right; moreover cycles accompanied by their owners are conveyed without extra charge on the railways, and aid is given to the sport and pastime from public funds. In Belgium the cycle has worked a veritable revolution in the national life. The surface of the greater part of the country being loose and sandy, the roads have been paved, and this paving is so bad as to be impossible for light traffic. The cycle tax has consequently been devoted, first, to the construction of paths on which cyclists have equal rights with pedestrians, and secondly to the replacing of the paving by macadam. In this way alone cycling has proved of inestimable benefit to Belgium and Luxembourg. In the United States measures for securing good roads and side paths have been introduced in various states, mainly at the instigation first of cyclists and then of motorists, and in Great Britain the Roads Improvement Association has worked for the same end.

Each country also possesses an organization for the government of cycle racing; and although these unions, one object of which - usually the main one - is the encouragement kac"`g' of cycle racing and cycle legislation, boast an enormous membership, their membership is often composed of clubs and not individuals. Among the most important are the National Cyclists' Union of England and the Union Velocipedique of France. These bodies are also bound together by the International Cyclists' Association, which is devoted mainly to the promotion of racing and legislation connected with it all over the world. The National Cyclists' Union, originally the Bicycle Union, which was the parent body of all, formed in February 1878, was the first to put up danger-boards, and also was early instrumental, alone and with the C.T.C., in framing or suggesting laws for the proper government and regulation of cycle traffic, notably in establishing its position as a vehicle in securing universal rights, in endeavouring, again in conjunction with the C.T.C., to increase facilities for the carriage of cycles on the railways, in securing the opening of parks, and in promoting many other equally praiseworthy objects. For a number of years, however, it has been more prominent as the ruling race-governing body. But cycle racing has fallen upon evil days. At one time cycle racing attracted a large number of spectators, but gradually it lost the public favour, or rather was ignored by the public because it became mainly an advertisement for cycle makers. The presence of the man, directly or indirectly, in the employ of, or aided by a maker, and the consequent mixing up of trade and sport, lowered racing not only in the public estimation, but in that of all genuine amateurs. There have always been a few amateurs who have raced for the love of the sport, but the greater number of prominent racing men have raced for the benefit of a firm, so much so that, at one time, an entire section of racing men were classed as " makers' amateurs." They did not confine themselves to the race track, but appropriated the public roads until they became a danger and a nuisance, and road-racing finally was abolished, though record rides, as they are called, are still indulged in, being winked at by the police and by the cycling authorities. The makers' amateurs at least rode to win and to make the best time possible. But the scandal was so great that a system of licensing riders was adopted by the N.C.U., and if this did not effectively kill the sport, the introduction of waiting races did. There probably is considerable skill in riding two-thirds of a race as slowly as possible, and only hurrying the last part of the last lap, but it does not amuse the public, who want to see a fast race as well as a close finish. The introduction of pacing by multicycles and motors next took from cycle racing what interest was left. A motor race, in which the machines are run at top speed, is more exciting than the spectacle of a motor being driven at a rate which the cyclist can follow with the protection of a wind-shield. In America this system of proving what cyclists can do with racing machines was carried so far that in 1899 a board track was laid down on the Long Island railway for about 2 m. between the metals, and a cyclist named Murphy, followed a train, and protected by enormous wind-shields, succeeded in covering a mile in less than a minute in the autumn of r900. Other cyclists have devoted themselves, at the instigation of makers, to the riding of roo m. a day every day for a year. It would be difficult to say what advantage there is in these trials and contests. They are not convincing records, and only prove that some people are willing to take great personal risks for the benefit of their employers. E. Hale, during 1899-1900, covered 32,496 M. in 313 days. For many years also long-distance races, mostly of six days' duration, have been promoted on covered tracks, and though condemned by all cycling organizations, they find a great deal of pecuniary support.

The cycle has also been taken up for military purposes. For this idea the British army is indebted to Colonel A. R. Savile, who in 1887 organized the first series of cycle manoeuvres in England. Since then military cycling has undergone a great development, not only in the country of its origin but in most others.

Cycling has produced a literature of its own, both of the pastime and of the trade. Owing to the enormous profits which, for several years, were obtained by cycle makers, a trade press appeared which simply lived by, and out of, its adver tisers; and though each country has one or more genuine trade journals, the large proportion of these sheets have been worth, in a business aspect, as little practically as from a literary standpoint. On the other hand a vast mass of practical and unpractical, scientific and medical, historical and touring treatises and records have appeared, but mostly of a rather ephemeral character.

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010
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From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection


This book is a comprehensive guide to riding and maintaining bicycles, easily understood by the rank amateur whilst also having useful information for experienced bike mechanics.

If you come across anything that you don't understand, please do leave a message on the relevant discussion page, and we'll try to clarify things for you. If you're having trouble, then the chances are that someone else is too.


  1. Introduction
  2. What style of riding is best for me
  3. Equipment and accessories
  4. Riding tips and safety tips
  5. Very detailed guide to safety
  6. Maintenance and repair
  7. Modifications

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