A Brief History Of: The Bicycle
The bicycle seems like it was always part of life but its popularity has mostly occurred in the modern age. Two-wheeled devices were discussed as early as the 1400s, but the modern bicycle did not come into being until the mid-1800s. German Baron Karl von Drais in the early 1800s invented what would become the bicycle. He called the two wheels with a central bar a “Laufsmachine”.
It was not until the 1840s that Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallemen created the first bicycle with pedals that could be easily produced and customers seemed to like. In 1885, John Kemp Starley had the idea to attach a chain to connect the back wheel and pedals. This ignited a whole new wave of bicycle enthusiasts and popularity actually grew dramatically due to the highly improved design.
The 1960s and 1970s were when different types of bicycles began to emerge. Cyclists saw a lot of potentials so a while new wave of innovation and change was brought about. BMX bicycles allowed for jumping and stunts that were not seen before. Better shocks and braking systems created a more controllable bike. The ability to mass produce bicycles when many different gears for diverse terrain and riding conditions was a revolutionary moment in bicycle history.
Mountain bikes and the modern road bike started becoming increasingly popular in the late 80s. In the 90s, every type of bicycle producer was making a cheap mountain bike that could be bought at the local store. Decreased manufacturing costs from Chinese manufacturers made it possible for everyone to have a bike if they wanted one.
Specialised road bikes for racing and commuting around town are amazing examples of modern ingenuity and engineering. Materials such as aluminum and other lightweight but strong metals have made it possible to create robust and smooth riding bicycles that can be picked up with one hand because they weigh 10 kilos.
A Brief History Of: Road Bike Racing
People started wanting to race bikes pretty much instantly. Little more than a closer neighbor having one was enough to warrant a short race. Of course, early roads were much rougher which resulted in lower speeds and riders becoming uncomfortable over a long distance. Modern roads allow for riders to have a seemingly cushioned ride. Safety equipment has made going higher speeds safer than it once was with severe injuries decreasing. Of course, vehicles on the road caused more hazards over time for cyclists due to volume and increased speed limits. Lack of enforcement on back roads made bicycling more dangerous in some areas.
As early as 1899 we see the shape of the road bicycle being produced with the characteristic handle bars. Road bike racing was popular in cities and through cycling clubs. The early road bikes were built with a relaxed geometry that made it difficult for the bicycle to be controlled in a tight space. In Europe racing between cities was popular with riders going distances of over 700 miles in some cases.
One can only imagine what this was like so long ago. Until 1937 all bicycle rims were made of wood which was surprisingly durable. After that aluminum became the normal material. There is no doubt that many of these races were designed for routes that were most comfortable to bicycle riding.
Some tracks were made of cinder and competitors would race along this track in endurance competitions that sometimes lasted as long as six days. Later on, this would change to a team of two racing since the dangers of such intense racing were quickly seen.
Modern road racing is often in the form of highly organized events. This is beneficial to the racer because they are better able to concentrate on the actual race. Water and rest stops along a route are provided, and there are far more safety measures in place for riders.
A Brief History Of: Tour De France
If anyone knows of a single bicycle race, then it is likely the Tour De France. This popular race is televised and highly anticipated every year. It takes an amazing amount of physical endurance to complete much less win such an intense road race. France was long famous for their intense road races from Bordeaux to Paris and Paris to Brest and back. This led to the Tour De France first held in 1903. Georges Lefèvre a journalist on L’Auto got the approval of his editor to organize an outstanding road race that would truly test the best riders. A 20,000 Franc prize attracted a lot of attention. Public appeal was heightened by George’s active reporting as he followed the race by train.
The best cyclists in the world will train all year for this one major event. The Tour till this day remains the race to win if you are that top of the road racing circuit. It takes many riders multiple attempts ever to achieve a win due to this race being reserved for only the top riders. In the early years of the race it was predominately a French event, but as interest grew and word got out, an increasing number of international races started entering.
The grueling race has many stages with mountains that must be traversed. At 2500 kilometers this race is only for the very best and most physically able. Fans line the streets along the entire route to cheer on their favorite racers. The Tour De France is an important generator of revenue throughout the racing route.
Road racing phenomena Bradley Wiggins is an example of a cyclist that raced for years and won many races before coming in 4th at the 2009 Tour De France. He continued to focus on road racing which leads to his 2012 win of the Tour De France.
Lance Armstrong caused a stir when he won multiple tours in a row. The outstanding performance of Lance, however, was overturned when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Bradley Wiggins was promoted to 3rd place at the 2009 tour as a result. In fact, Lance’s disqualification changed a lot of riders records.
The Tour De France has also created an impetus for improved road bikes. Races such as these encourage sponsors to improve gearing, safety features, and the ride of bicycles for a more comfortable experience. This ingenuity is then passed on to the general world of cycling.
Best Road Bikes: What To Look For In Gear Sets
Choosing a gear set for a bicycle is important because it has such an impact on the way the bike performs under varying terrain conditions. If you live in a hilly area, then a gear set with multiple lower gears may be a better choice. For example, a 22-speed road bike would have 11 low and 11 high gears or something close to that depending on the type of gearset you choose.
Best Road Bikes: What Is A Gearset?
A gear set is part of a larger system known as the bicycle gear train. The gear set is located on the wheels, and the chain passes over. The gear set determines what happens when a cyclist’s pedals.
Lower gears mean that the chain passes over more teeth thus giving the rider more strength to get up a hill for example. A higher gear means that the bicycle chain has less resistance, and a rider can go further and with more speed if the terrain is flatter.
The entire assembly that allows for gears consists of derailleurs, the chain, and chain rings. The rings are behind the pedals and allow for different speeds. The derailleurs make sure the chain slack is taken up, or the chain is allowed to loosen when gears are changed.
Gearsets with many speeds allow for fine tuning of how your bike is performing. Many lower speeds allow for a more comfortable ride up a hill whereas high speeds get you where you want to go faster. Gearsets have come a long way from the time of 3 cog sets which meant three speeds. 22 or 10-speed bicycles are far more common now.
Best Road Bikes: What Are Good Makes Of Gearset?
With the popularity of bicycles being what it is there are many different manufactures of gearsets out there. Shimano is a time tested and highly recognized brand. Some of the top road bike producers choose Shimano. Kona uses Shimano on their popular Honky Tonk and Roadhouse models.
Shimano makes a variety of specialized gear sets for the road racing community. Look at customer reviews or talk to others on forums before investing in a high-end gearset. With so many options out there it is important to get a set that fits your riding style and the terrain you traverse every day. Claud Butler and Dawes offer some high-quality road bicycles that include high-quality gearsets. Their cycles are considered some of the top road and touring bicycles in the world.
Best Road Bikes: What To Look For In A Frame Fork Combination?
Lightweight Aluminum is a popular choice for strength and weight reduction of the frame. Racers and commuters like this because they often have to pick up their bicycle or travel with it. The fork can be made of a different material than the frame on some bikes. Steel, titanium, and carbon fiber are all used to produce bicycle frames.
A carbon fiber fork offers great aerodynamic design. The lightweight carbon fiber gives better control of a bicycle at high speeds. Road racing forks don’t allow for the use of shock absorbers and other accessories found in other types of bicycles such as mountain bikes. Carbon fiber is expensive to produce but the superior performance it offers makes it well worth the cost to the serious bicycle enthusiast.
Companies such as Kona have made use of the properties of steel for a stable and comfortable road bike. Steel is strong and provides a rigid ride that is preferable for some riders that want a bit more support in a bicycle.
Titanium is very strong and lightweight but expensive to purchase. It is stronger than steel but much lighter. This is a popular choice for those that don’t want to settle for anything but the lightest and strongest.
The size of the rider is an important aspect to consider when deciding on a frame and fork combination. Taller riders will need a larger frame than smaller ones. With road bikes, this is a very important thing to consider for a comfortable ride over long distances.
The weight distribution of a frame and fork is important to the ride. A good distribution of weight throughout the frame makes for a smooth ride.
The shape of the bicycle frame tube has a big impact on the amount of drag a rider will experience. A steeper slant on tubes allows for less drag. If speed is your concern, then choose a frame that offers the best aerodynamics.
Talk To Other Riders
There are a lot of different fork and frame combinations out there in a wide price range. While equipment does effect performance. Viking is a good road bicycle frame for those just starting out in the adventure of road bikes.
Best Road Bikes: What To Look For In Wheels And Tires?
Tires and wheels are something that gets overlooked more than it should. Tires vary based on the sie of the road bike. Here are some of the top things to look for when it comes to tires.
Tires offer varying levels of traction. Lack of traction can result in more slips and falls then you should have. At the same time, too much traction can make for a slower bike ride. Letting your bicycle dealer know where you ride the most is important in finding a good fit.
Support and Smoothness Of Ride
Larger tires offer more support and normally go right along with a larger bike. Wider tires offer more traction and support while thinner tires allow for a faster ride.
Threads Per Inch
The more threads per inch a tire is rated to the more resistant to punctures and blow outs it will be. Higher thread count tires are more expensive but well worth it if you use your bike a lot. Lower thread count tires are heavier and have thicker sidewalls making them more resistant to cuts. Higher thread count tires are the best for those that want to achieve high speeds.