Reasons to Go by Bike?

The bicycle is the perfect form of transport. It’s a relatively simple machine that can be made and bought cheaply. Not much can go wrong with a bike, and if it does it’s usually easy and inexpensive to repair. Driven by human leg-power, a bike gives off no pollution and keeps you fit as you ride. What more do you want?

Putting bikes to work

police bikes patrol the street

On the beat
Police bikes patrol the streets and can get almost anywhere quickly and quietly.

special courier delivery by bike

Special delivery
In busy cities, a bike courier can dodge the traffic to get an urgent package delivered.

commuter folding bike

Office workers keep fit by cycling to work. If they need to take the train, they can just fold up the bike and take it with them.

deliveryman with his fully loaded bike

No job is too big or too small for a determined delivery bike.

bicycle rickshaw

A bicycle rickshaw, a human-powered taxi, is a cheap and pollution-free way to travel.

Most people travel between 16 and 24 kph (1O – 15 mph) on a bike – that’s about four to five times faster than they can walk.

You won’t believe it

Cyclists in a long road race ride in a line one behind the other. This is called drafting and it reduces the effect of air resistance on the group, cutting energy use by up to 40 per cent. Each rider takes a turn at the front, where the drag is greatest.

Record breakers

In 2008, German Günter Mai created the worlds lightest Bike, weighing just 3.1 kg (7.04 lb).

The world’s longest bike is 28.1 m (92 ft) – almost the length of a basketball court. It was built in 2002 at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The first circumnavigation of the globe by bike took place between 1884 and 1887, when American Thomas Stevens rode a penny-farthing around the world.

In 1995, Dutch cyclist Fred Rompelberg reached a record speed of 268.881 kph (167 mph), riding behind a dragster to reduce air resistance.


To steer a bike you turn the handlebars to turn the front wheel, yes? Think again! The handlebars are more to help you balance. To turn left, you turn the handlebars very slightly right and then tip your body to the left. This is countersteering, and you do it automatically,

In the mid-1890s, so many people were coming up with improvements for the design of the bicycle that the USA had two patent offices – one for bicycles and one for everything else!

Tour de France

The world ‘s greatest cycle race covers more than 3,500 km (2,200 miles) split into 21 daily stages. To help people identify them, the race leaders are awarded coloured jerseys each day.

Yellow jersey
Worn by the race leader – the rider with the quickest time overall.

Green jersey
Worn by the rider who has gained most points from sprints.

Polka-dot jersey
Worn by the rider with the most points from the climbing stages.

The 1989 Tour de France was the closest in Tour history. After three long weeks of cycling, American cyclist Greg LeMond stole victory over Frenchman Laurent Fignon by just eight seconds, with a time of 87 hours, 38 minutes, and 15 seconds.

Yellow jersey legends

Number of days the cyclist has worn the yellow jersey in their career:

eddy merckx tour de france

Eddy Merckx
(Belgium) 96

lance armstrong tour de france

Lance Armstrong
(pictured) (USA) 83

Bernard Hinault tour de france

Bernard Hinault
(France) 78

Top Tour winners

Lance Armstrong
(USA) 7 consecutive wins
Miguel Indurain
(Spain) 5 consecutive wins
Eddy Merckx
(Belgium) 5 wins
Bernard Hinault
(France) 5 wins
Jacques Anquetil
(France) 5 wins

The right gear

Most bikes have a set of different toothed wheels, called gears, that makes it possible to turn the wheels faster, or with more force.

Problem: Want to speed along a flat road
Solution: Switch to a high gear
If you select a rear sprocket, or gear, with 12 teeth, it only takes a quarter-turn of the chainwheel to turn the rear sprocket, so one turn of the pedals results in four turns of the rear wheel.

When you change gear, the chain shifts onto different sizes of chainwheels and sprockets.

Problem: Want to cycle uphill
Solution: Switch to a lower gear
If you select a rear sprocket, or gear, with 24 teeth, it takes half a turn of the chainwheel to turn the rear sprocket, so one turn of the pedals results in two turns of the rear wheel.

Blasts from the past

The Draisienne is invented by German Carl Von Drais. It has a streerable front wheel but no pedals.

The pedal bicycle is invented by Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan. it can reach speeds of 22.5 kph (14 mph).

French blacksmith Pierre Michaux develops the velocipede bike. It sparks a craze in Paris and is nicknamed the “boneshaker”.

English inventor James Starley creates the first penny-farthing bicycle. Named after British coins, it has a huge front wheel.

John Kemp Starley builds the Rover Safety Bicycle, with pedals linked to the rear wheel by a chain and gears.

In the age of the car, bikes are out of fashion and are primarily built for children.

Racing bikes with dropped handlebars, narrow tyres, and multiple gears become popular.

BMX bikes are launched.

Mountain bikes are invented in California. They are first known as “clunkers”

Photos by: LNP, Bicycling, treehugger, pixdaus, Flickr, TOUR de France, Lance Armstrong (CNN), Bernard Hinault (BikeRaceInfo)