50 Little Known Bicycle Facts

  1. There are about a billion bicycles in the world, twice as many as motorcars. Almost 400 million bicycles are in China.
  2. Every year some 50 million bicycles – and 20 million cars – are produced.
  3. Air-filled tires were used on bicycles before they were used on motorcars.
  4. The first five-seat bicycle, the quindem, was built in 1940.
  5. The world speed record on a bicycle is held by John Howard, Olympic Cyclist and Ironman triathlon winner from the US. In 1985 he reached 245.08 km/h (152.2 mph), cycling in the slipstream of a specially designed car.
  6. If you lined up all the mountain bikes in America, tire-to-tire, and then rode a bike along that line, it would take you 36 weeks, (riding 40 hours per week, 15 miles per hour) to get to the end of the line.
  7. The longest tandem or “bicycle built for two” ever made was actually for thirty-five. It is almost 67 feet long and weighs about as much as a Volkswagen.
  8. The smallest bicycle that an adult can ride has wheels made from silver dollars.
  9. Steve McPeak built and rode a unicycle that was ten stories tall. The greatest skill was not in riding the machine, but in building it so that the chains would not fall off the sprockets.
  10. At St. Helen’s School in Newbury, Ohio, unicycling is a mandatory subject. The students are allowed to ride their unicycles in the halls between classes. Collisions are surprisingly few.
  11. Half of all the number of parts of a typical bicycle are in the chain.
  12. Do you also know that the air-filled tyres used today in cars and many other vehicles was first used in a bicycle?
  13. Although Leonardo da Vinci drew some rough sketches of a contraption that looked like a bicycle, the Frenchman De Sivrac built the first bicycle-type vehicle in 1690. It was referred to as a hobbyhorse. However, it did not have pedals.
  14. The first two wheeled rider propelled machine was invented by Baron Karl de Drais de Sauerbrun, in France in 1818. It was entirely made of wood.
  15. In 1839 a Scot called Kirkpatrick Macmillan made a machine for a rider which had wheels rimmed with iron. Instead of pedals it used cranks – but it was not a success.
  16. The next type of bike to be invented was one dubbed “the boneshaker”, weighing around 160lb. It became very popular and in 1868 the first boneshaker bicycle race was held.
  17. In 1870, James Starley, who became known as the father of the bicycle industry, developed the famous Penny-Farthing in England. It was named after the largest and the smallest copper coins in the currency at that time. In the 1870s a party of enthusiasts are said to have ridden Penny-Farthings from Lands End to John O’Groats (690 miles) in 15 days.
  18. On a penny-farthing bicycle, one pedal gave the wheel one turn. A lot of pedalling was needed to get around! With the advent of gears, bicycles could move as fast as cars.
  19. Since the 1890s the basic design has remained fairly similar although many refinements have been made over the last 100 years.
  20. Bikes have been developed for different uses such as touring, racing or all terrain cycling.
  21. Mountain bikes were invented in the mid 1970s and are one of the most popular types of bike today. They have up to 21 gears, wide heavy treaded tires and can cost thousands of dollars.
  22. 20 million bikes are owned in the UK, which means that 1 in 3 adults has one – although only 6 million people are regular cycle users.
  23. The first National Bike Week was organised in 1923 by the Cyclists’ Touring Club.
  24. The organisers of the annual National Bike Week expect more than 350,000 people to take part in different events across the country.
  25. Cycling at least 20 miles a week cuts in half your risk of heart disease compared to non-cyclists who take no exercise, according to the National Heart Foundation.  
  26. Police constables adopted the bicycle early in the 20th century, initially using their own. However, they eventually became a standard issue, particularly for police in rural areas.
  27. The Kent police purchased 20 bicycles in 1896, and by 1904 129 rural police bicycle patrols were operating.
  28. Some countries retained the police bicycle while others dispensed with them for a time. Late in the 20th Century, urban bicycle patrols became more common, as the mobility of car-borne officers was increasingly limited by traffic congestion and pedestrianisation.
  29. There are more bicyclists in the U.S. than skiers, golfers and tennis players combined.
  30. Bikes are skinny: they take up less than 5% of the space that a car does on the street or in a parking space.
  31. A bike is 30 times less expensive to buy and maintain than a car.
  32. Europeans who walk, bike and use transit lose 8-9 lb of fat per person per year.
  33. Calories burned by a 180-pound cyclist pedaling 14 miles in an hour: 540.
  34. Calories burned by a 130-pound cyclist pedaling 14 miles in an hour: 402.
  35. If you lined up all the mountain bikes in America, tire-to-tire, and then rode a bike along that line, it would take you 36 weeks, (riding 40 hours per week, 15 miles per hour) to get to the end of the line.
  36. The longest tandem or “bicycle built for two” ever made was actually for thirty-five. It is almost 67 feet long and weighs about as much as a Volkswagen.
  37. The smallest bicycle that an adult can ride has wheels made from silver dollars
  38. Steve McPeak built and rode a unicycle that was ten stories tall. The greatest skill was not in riding the machine, but in building it so that the chains would not fall off the sprockets.
  39. At St. Helen’s School in Newbury, Ohio, unicycling is a mandatory subject. The students are allowed to ride their unicycles in the halls between classes. Collisions are surprisingly few.
  40. Half of all the parts of a typical bicycle are in the chain.
  41. The longest bicycle skid on level ground: 374 feet. The tire went flat 20′ before the end of the skid. The bike was equipped with 27″ tires containing 110 pounds pressure.
  42. The most efficient animal on earth in terms of weight transported over distance for energy expended is a human on a bicycle. 
  43. The most efficient machine on earth in terms of weight transported over distance for energy expended is a human on a bicycle.
  44. A properly adjusted seat should fit the rider well. With the right size bike, a rider should be able to balance with their toes.
  45. The first known drawing of a bicycle was created by a student! Who was the teacher? Leonardo da Vinci.
  46. In 1817, Karl von Drais made history by creating a bicycle from wood.
  47. In 1839, a blacksmith in Scotland made the first modern bicycle, which topped out at the astounding speed of 140 mph.
  48. You call a bike with a chain and two wheels that are the same size a safety bicycle.
  49. The longest tandem bicycle in the world was built to carry 35 people.
  50. …add your own here!

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2 Responses to 50 Little Known Bicycle Facts

  1. Ross-Barry Finlayson says:

    10-out-of-10 for this one Steve. I found example-17 the most interesting.

  2. Florida Biking says:

    I agree and I thought 38 was also interesting!

Comments are closed.