The History & Evolution of Bicycles
The cycle is probably one of the first Human propelled machines called velocipede or called dandy horse. It was probably designed as an alternate of a horse. Bicycle evolution started with the onset of 19 century. Countries of Europe were the frontrunners in the development of cycles.
There were various stages in the development of cycles. The initial prototypes were made of wood. Then came the metal frames that were introduced that had metallic wheels. Riders used to mount them and push them with legs. It was nothing but an assisted mode of walking.
Some bicycles had different sized wheels. The front-wheel was bigger than the rear wheel. Around the mid of 19th Century, rotary cranks and pedals were added to the front wheel hub. The seat was mounted on the front wheel that helped in acceleration. Pedaling made it easier for riders to thrust ahead at greater speed.
In the last decade of the 19th century, John Dunlop’s redefined pneumatic bicycle tires. This made the ride less bumpy. Just before the rubber tires were fitted in cycles, came chain. With it, both the tires were attached to it. Chain drive and pneumatic tires made the ride comfortable and faster.
Later on, the cycle gained prominence in Europe and many other parts of the planet. During the world wars, cycles were widely used by soldiers to move swiftly. Chinese took to bicycling in a big way. It was known as the kingdom of bicycle and during 1970, when Mao Zedong launched the ‘Great Leap Forward’ Program, having a bicycle in every Chinese home was made a mission. Owning a cycle meant prosperity.
The British got bicycles in India. But it was largely used by who’s who of the upper echelons. The bicycle Industry took birth in 1938 when it was decided by the Indian Government to manufacture them to be used by British and Allied forces. In 1943, Cycle Manufacturers’ Association was formed.
Bicycle penetration in India started only after the year 1960. Interestingly, the Indian Government introduced voluntary price control on bicycles. By 1970, India became the fifth largest producer of bicycles in the world.
This was the period when the economic growth in India was stalled and there were huge inflationary pressures on the economy. Cycle Industry also felt the heat of it. After the repeated requests made by manufacturers association, the Indian Government agreed to increase the price by INR 9.70 per cycle.
What was initially a poor man’s carriage, the bicycle has transformed into a fitness machine. Health Experts hail cycling as one of the best exercises. Its designs changed. The bicycle evolution machine became lean and trendy.
Introduction of gears led to faster cruising and now with battery fit in it, the cycle has become a smart machine. These are called as E-Bikes. There are hosts of technological features in E-bikes that make it very useful; be it in exercise or riding. E-bikes are on the course of redefining this product and industry. Overall, one can say we are cycling ahead to a better future!