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Bicycle chronology from 1817(4 posts)

Bicycle chronology from 1817rwsh
Jan 11, 2003 9:05 AM
I have been preparing a modest article about bicycle chronology from 1817 till now for our Club newsletter. If you want a copy let me know (my query might only then make sense). Little did I know when I started, how controversial things were.
I have used the words "possibly", "probably" etc. many times and certainly I do not want to be so arrogant as to suggest that I have taken a knowledgeable position on one side or another with respect to the various controversies.

Most of the very heated controversy surrounds the "who did what first" issues of the 19th century. However, I now want to address the 20th century a little more. I suppose the difference was that the 19th century innovations were in many instances less commercial whereas thereafter, the developments were more as a result of competitive or market demand.

That being said, there appear to be voids ... what happened from 1920 to 1960 other than the admittedly monumental innovations from Campagnolo? Have there been any true milestones since the mid-1980s or are all more recent developments incremental improvements over previous ideas? I am not convinced that adding gear sprockets, changing headset diameter, adding carbon tubes really count.

Any suggestions you might wish to make will be gratefully accepted.
1920-1960 ...Humma Hah
Jan 11, 2003 10:45 AM
A couple of books by Jay Pridemore and Jim Hurd cover that period, and are a good read. The American Bicycle and a couple dealing with Schwinn are worthwhile.

Cycling took a distinctly different path in the US than Europe during that period. Schwinn dominated in the US, producing heavy kids's bikes and borrowing a German idea for fat balloon tires. Motorcycle-like styling with curves, chrome, fenders, "tanks", etc was the rule. This is a not-insignicant thing, because the kids who had those bikes are today's older adult cyclists in the US. Those bikes also gave rise to mountainbiking. These bikes were fabricated by advanced methods ("electroforging", etc.), and were physically very distinct from traditional roadbikes in construction and philosophy.

Around 1937, Schwinn teamed up with Emil Wastyn and his family to develop the Paramount line, as good as any European track bikes. They hit production in 1938-39, and in 1941 a specially-modified fixed gear Paramount reached 108 mph drafting a midget race car. The Paramount, while finely crafted, was not really much different from a good racebike of 1900, however.

Don't neglect the history of automobiles when studying the history of bicycles 1920-1960. The dearth of developments in cycling is a direct result of the explosion of popularity of automobiles and motorcycles.

Don't forget to credit bicycles for the development of aviation. Today we build bicycles of aircraft tubing. In 1903, bicycle tubing and other parts were used to build the first airplane.
re: Bicycle chronology from 1817micha
Jan 11, 2003 3:08 PM
When did bicyles used for racing became different from bicycles used for pleasure or transportation? As true for many other sports (rowing, for example), people at first raced each other with whatever was at hand. Then someone thought of a gizmo that would make the bike (or boat) faster than everyone else's.
An interesting thought , especially in light of the UCI definintion of what constitutes a "legal" bicycle.
re: Bicycle chronology from 1817rwsh
Jan 12, 2003 8:01 AM
Thanks for the ideas ..... I am going to post the 20th list (only; my 19th century version is complete) as a new message for further comment and advice .......