Monday, December 13, 2010

The Bicycle by Kelby Fruecht

I. There are many things that we use almost every day that we never seem to think about. Many of these things are very useful in our lives. One invention that I believe is most used and looked over is the bicycle. Bicycles are used by countless groups of people and things like BMX, Pro Cycling, X-games, recreation, and even as a means of transportation.

II. The documents and creation of the 1st bicycle was in Germany in 1817. They called it a Draisine. The Draisine was very different from the bike we know today. It had no pedals and you move it by pushing your feet on the ground. It was given many names like strider or velocipede, but as the design of the idea changed over the years, the word bicycle seemed to have stick there on. Surprisingly the word “bicycle” was devised by the French 43 years later in the 1860’s.

Between 1820 and 1860, there were many developments being made to make human-powered machines. The goal was to make transportation more efficient and practical. The idea of balancing on two wheels was dismissed and so all the designs had either 3 or 4 wheels. The problem with these designs was that they were extremely heavy and most of them proved to be less efficient than even walking!

In 1870, the Frenchman Eugene Meyer was credited for inventing the high bicycle. The improvements enabled the rider capable of higher speeds based on how long your legs were.

Soon after, the bicycle that we know and recognize today was invented. The interesting thing was that it was actually called a “safety bike” because in the 1880’s and 90’s, the safety bike changed the way bikes would be forever. Before the creation of the safety bike, the bicycle was considered to be a recreational thing for men because the previous configurations and designs of the bicycle were so dangerous that most women and kids didn’t ride bicycles. Once the traditional design of the bicycle was invented, everyone started riding bikes and it became a huge sensation around the world.

III. The inventor of the first successful traditional (safety) bicycle was John Kemp Starley. He was born in 1854 and was an English inventor who industrialized the bike and became know as the creator of the modern bicycle. He grew up being the son of a gardener. In 1872, he moved out of the house to work with his uncle building Ariel cycles. He started his own company as a partnership with a cycling enthusiast William Sutton, the company was named Starley & Sutton Co. After making kids tricycles for a year or two, the struck gold when they made the safety bike for all ages in 1889.

They became the first bicycling company in the world to mass produce and export bikes. After much success, their company became know as the Rover Cycling Company. Then suddenly in 1901, John Starley passed away, leaving the company with William Sutton. Interestingly enough, as the years went by in the 19th century and the world started to go into the automobile era, the Rover company switched from doing bikes to motorcycles and cars. If you notice how the name Rover rings a bell? Well, this company that made the first ever modern bike, is the same exact company as Land Rover today.

IV. The creation of the bicycle has had a tremendous impact on the world. It opened the way for the later invention of the motorcycle and changed the way many people live, especially in countries where there is no gas or where the gas is too expensive, it has given people a means of transportation for just about anybody. Also, the bicycle has paved the way not only for transportation, but for fitness too. The bicycle has such a great impact on the world and it continues to this day.

V. The article titled “Rover – How it Began” was a well written synapsis of John Starley’s rise to making the Rover Cycling company. It explained how he rose to the top and became the number one bicycle company during the early 1900’s.


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