The Fashion Of Bikes: Cycling Through The Years

The Fashion Of Bikes: Cycling Through The Years

Cycling or riding bicycles has been something that many people have been doing for over a century now. Many people might not be aware that a lot of people used bicycles even in the late 19th century which means that while there were still Cowboys in the US many people were riding around the cities on bicycles. While this might be surprising to many people the reality of course is that the bicycles of today are very different compared to the bicycles of yesterday. So, let’s look through history and see how cycling has evolved over the years and what trends dominated some of the most iconic periods of the last century.

The early 19th century

While these are not exactly the bicycles that we know nowadays the reality is that the ancestor of the bicycle existed back in the early 19th century. We are of course talking about the foot-powered hobby horse. Essentially the way it worked is that it had two wheels, the front one being steerable, and was powered by your feet. In a very flintstone fashion, you would simply run beside your hobby horse and then jump on it to gain some speed. This might not seem like much, but it was of course the very beginning of what we know as bicycles today. It took no time for people to create something more akin to what we know.

The mid to late 19th century

This is probably the most iconic ancestor of the modern bicycle. While many people know it as the big wheel the official name was of course the penny farthing. It is well known for its iconic look because of the massive wheel but what many people seem to forget is why the wheel is so big. The way the penny farthing works essentially is that the pedals are attached to the front wheel meaning that what you’re pedaling is making the wheel rotate by itself. So, the goal here is that by adding the biggest wheel possible each pedal allows you to travel as much as possible. The smaller wheel simply exists as a tool that allows you to keep your balance. The biggest problem of this Victorian-era invention is of course that there was no breaking mechanism. This meant that while you could achieve relatively high speeds by pedaling eventually you would have to come to a stop and to do so you would have to block the pedals with your leg power. It would be soon outclassed by something that came much faster than many people expected.


This decade saw the birth of the safety bicycle. The safety bicycle of course is the very first bicycle to have a chain system that allows people to pedal and for the power to be transferred to different wheels without having to use massive wheels like the big wheel did before. The biggest inventions that were added to the safety bicycle were not only the chain system but also that finally, the bicycle had a dedicated system that allowed the driver to slow down and brake. While the early versions still used wheels without tires this soon changed with the invention of the inflatable tires in the late 1880s. All these changes earned the bicycle the name safety because it not only made the drive safer but also allowed people a greater amount of control over the bicycle. It is very telling that a lot of the fashion around how we make bicycles is still very much the same as this first iteration because the design was so brilliant.

The 20th Century and Today

So much has happened in the cycling industry since then, but the reality is that the bicycle remained pretty much the same. Nowadays we have many variations from professional bikes that are used for races and cycling on roads, mountain bikes used for extreme activities where you can ride over rocks and bumps and everything, and even BMX that allow you to do extreme sports and tricks. Nowadays we are even seeing the combination of technologies that were used for other vehicles and make their way into the cycling industry. This is why in many countries where it is much easier to go around on bicycles you are seeing the rise in the usage of efficient and reliable ebikes which allow you to not only pedal but also use a motor that can allow you to go a greater distance without winding yourself down. Only time will tell what other new trends and fashion will come to the cycling industry.

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