The Evolution of the Bicycle - Essay Sample

7 pages
1910 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
Case study
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The pursuit of a human-driven, steady, fast and energy efficient means of transportation has taken us a long way. As such, bicycles have a reasonably diverse history. They have been in existence for nearly two hundred years and have significantly evolved during that time. Many significant inventions have radically transformed the bicycles over the years. The first kind of bikes was built entirely different and was not as comfortable as now they are now. The earlier bicycle forms had two wheels, had no way to steer and required a running start. From one model to the other, features were gradually developed such as steering mechanisms, a method to drive the bicycle forward without touching the ground, and a mechanism to slow and stop the bike. The text below describes some of the significant milestones as well as minor innovations, most fascinating aspects of the bicycles revolution leading up to the modern bicycle:

In the later 1800s, the air-filled tire and the chain drive followed by the development of gears in that order revolutionized bicycling. In the last years, there has been a revolution in the improvement and use of new resources for building frames. Initially, frames were made out of iron or wood (Science Cycling, n.d.).Today, bicycles are made using exotic materials: aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. Bicycle frames that were used in the 1990s were lighter and stronger than before.

The beginning-1790s

The first mention of a two-wheeled automobile driven by one rider was a toy-like simple device with just two wheels connected to a stiff wooden frame. The driver would sit on the structure and rag using his feet, moving forward. There were a couple of challenges that this device exhibited. It was unstable, since the moment the rider lifted both legs off the ground, it could fall over. Also, it had difficulties in turning. As such, the rider had to raise the front wheel and drag it to rotate; the turning was done a couple of times before using it. Inability to steer quickly resulted in difficulty in passing through even moderately rough landscapes.


First, it is vital to take into account an essential event-the volcanic eruption of Tambora Mountain in Indonesia in 1815. This explosion resulted in crop failure hence causing starvation and death of a horse in significant numbers. Karl von Drais, a German national, was looking for alternatives to horses for some time. In that capacity, he came up with modifications to the toy device and invented what notably became known as the hobby horse or the Velocifere. As such, he is credited as the founder of the first bicycle known as swiftwalker which hit the road in 1817. He was able to attain a speed as high as 15kmph.This first bicycle had no pedals, and its frames were made from wood. The bike had two wheels made from wood with iron rims and tires covered with leather. As such, a rider would sit on top of the bicycle with his feet leaving the ground in successions, moving forward. The necessary modification in this device was the inclusion of simple joints to make the front wheel steerable. As the speed increased, a backrest was added for the comfort of the rider. However, the ride was still quite bumpy, and the feet were even on the ground.

First true bicycle-1830s

Credit is given to one Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a Scottish blacksmith who invented the first real bicycle that could be ridden with both feet off from the ground. This was achieved by attaching two levers on each side of the frame near the position of legs. One end was connected to the frame, while the other end supported a short bar which in turn held the pedals in place. The rider would switch the pedals and the complete system would revolve the rocker fixed on the back wheel. This was termed as Velocipede. Though Macmillan invented the first real bicycle (Velocipede), which made it easier for the user to navigate without his feet touching the ground, it was a flop on commercial grounds-not even one product was sold. This could have been for the reason that oscillating the feet was much more difficult than spinning it as in the models that came later.

Michauxs Velocipede-1870s

For the next forty years, there was no such substantial improvements and innovation in the designs. Pierre Michaux, a French blacksmith, was credited with coming up with a new model which had pedals for the very first time instead of levers. The pedal-crank mechanism was attached to the anterior wheel. This model resembled the present day working of the kids tricycles. Despite the use of suspenders, the iron-rimmed wheels made from wood offered adequate shocks to the user that Michauxs Velocipede was dubbed the Bone Shaker. As such, the main aim was to increase the bicycles speed.

Additionally, the speed is calculated by distance traveled divided by the time was taken. The distance traveled depends on the number of spins the anterior wheel takes. In one rotation, the traveled distance equals the circumference of the wheel, which in turn depends on the length of the wheel pedaled. In that regard, distance traveled can be amplified in two ways: either increasing the number of rotations per unit of time or increasing the width of the wheel. We not only need a longer distance while riding a bicycle but also the rotating force which gives the required grip to propel forward.


When you put your bicycle on the stand and try to rotate the pedals using your hands, while increasing the speed steadily, you will notice that after a threshold, that is, revolutions per minute, the force you are applying in the process with decrease gradually. This occurs because, after certain revolutions per unit time, the hands or legs are not able to deliver the same power at a much higher speed. There arises an optimal RPM (revolutions per minute) at which the applied force is maximum. For the human legs, this comes around fifty revolutions per minute. At that time, it was not necessary to rotate the front wheel at that high revolution per minute since it led to massive shocks and made the ride highly bumpy. In that capacity, only one option was left-to increase the diameter which in turn increases the speed. Increasing the wheels circumference gave longer distances in one rotation. This, in turn, brought about increased speed. However, some challenges also came up.

The eras of these high wheelers were the years 1870-1900s.Commercial success was attained. The high wheeler brought about a speed of up to twenty miles per hour, which was quite ahead of the previous models. The problems that came about with the high speed was as a result of its size. The center of gravity was quite high and much closer to the anterior wheel. Powering and spinning the front wheel led to decreased stability. As such, even small stones or emergency brakes could make the driver fly off.

Modern design

Henry J. Lawson an Englishman came up with a new model named bicyclette, which later got famously known as the safety bike. The size of the front wheel was smaller than the back wheel; hence, instead of the direct transmission of power, chains and sprocket wheels were used. After a series of additional improvements, both wheels became equal in size, tangential spokes, bells, and air-filled tires emerged, making the bicycle stronger and stable.

Philips and Cisco

As new LED solutions are technologically advanced, engineers, lighting designers, building technology incumbents and owners, IT experts and developers will have access to verified, integrated methods that address power efficiency and significant lighting control. Just substituting the fluorescent lights with LEDs reduces power usage. However, a regulated LED lighting system is capable of producing energy cost reductions of up to fifty percent or more. Furthermore, regulated, flexible lighting systems help to establish more comfortable environments for individuals, which in turn leads to more productivity, learning experiences, improved concentration and attention span, and general efficiency. In that capacity, partnerships that focus on Internet of Things (IoT) have gained prominence in the previous years.

Industry giants Philips and Cisco have strategically established an alliance that will bring together Philips LED-based lighting network system with Ciscos IT network to address a worldwide office market approximated to be worth one billion euros. This alliance will enable customers to receive the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) that the lighting and the IT industries have to offer building owners, facility managers and office workers (Philips, 2015). The two organizations aim to speed up adoption of this technology in the market and deliver improved connectivity, efficacy, and comfort, constituting the most innovative aspects of a contemporary building.

The duo will combine Philips office lighting system by using Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology with Ciscos technological network. Lighting points in Philips scheme, armed with software applications, can be linked using Cisco technologies. The lighting network produces an information pathway and helps enable new services. The arrangement can provide data to enhance user comfort and develop the office setting, and office personnel can personalize their light via their phones.

To demonstrate how Philips and Cisco can come together to unravel the benefits of the Internet of Things in offices, Cisco is setting up a state-of-the-art Philips linked illumination system at its Canadian head office in Toronto. Moreover, Philips and Cisco will work together on a joint go-to-market policy. According to the head of strategy and marketing at Philips Bill Bien, The union has two of the largest and most reliable lighting and connectivity brands internationally linked to bringing the IoT to life in workplaces and commercial buildings globally. Clients will get the finest power efficient lighting experience in the connected domain and be able to apply information attained from their connected system for energy saving, reducing costs, enhancing productivity and improving their workspace surroundings. Lighting that is linked to highly safe, steady IT infrastructure will create the backbone of the smart office of the coming days.

Lighting is a rational step in bringing the Internet of Things to enterprises in the international platform. As such, connected lighting can sense and measure the surroundings. For instance, occupancy devices in the system can deliver information on a space utilization to help in cost reduction. Usually, lighting is responsible for about forty percent of a buildings electricity use. Approximately eighty percent of energy reserves and reduced building maintenance expenses can be achieved by managing and integrating LED linked illumination system through a network system.

According to the executive sponsor of Cisco-Philips alliance, Edwin Paalvast, the world is going digital, and by partnering with Philips, we can assist building owners to digitize their lighting networks more quickly to drive better customer experience and efficacy. By working together with Philips, we are providing a constant Power over Ethernet LED solution using a highly protected IT network system. To make office spaces more comfortable, members of staff can personalize and regulate the LED lighting system to suit their preferences and duties. Also, for those with access to smartphones can make use of the smartphone application to access other office services through a communications channel. According to Richard Lees, the senior most project manager at CBRE Limited- a commercial real estate and investment Services Company, the likelihoods of this allied lighting system are never-ending. As such, there are numerous capabilities of this network system that we have not even examined yet....

Have the same topic and dont`t know what to write?
We can write a custom paper on any topic you need.

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: