Penny farthing bicycle

Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century in Europe and now number more than a billion worldwide, twice as many as automobiles. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for such uses as children’s toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services and bicycle racing.

  • Design Behind the Bike – Series explores the effect of science and technology on cycling and explores how the development in technology has changed bike design and build over the last 100 years.
  • Top 10 cycling innovations 2014 – examples of what happens when people dare to try something different … and that sort of spirit is the reason why we’re not still all riding penny farthings.

There are many forms of bicycles as they have been modified and adapted for specific uses.

  • penny farthing – the earliest bicycle design had one big wheel in front and a small wheel in the back. The pedals are attached directly to the front wheel. The name comes from England at a time when penny coins were large and farthing coins were tiny, in a bout the same size ratio as the wheels on this bicycle.
  • bicycle – most have pedals that drive the wheels through a gear and chain system. In most cases the pedal drive the rear wheel. Some use a system of gears and controls so the rider can change the gear ratio as they ride along. Lower gears mkae it easier to pedal up hills. Higher gears allow the rider to go faster although more effort is required to peadal more slowly.
  • touring, road bike
  • mountain bike
  • racing – sprint
  • unicycle
  • tricycle
  • recumbent

Ghana Bamboo BikesUN chief Ban Ki-moon on a bamboo bike! (video 0:52) – manufacture multipurpose second generation bamboo bikes that are suitable for the high terrain and rough roads and purposeful for the local needs using native bamboo. Bamboo bikes have great riding characteristics due to bamboo’s natural vibration-damping qualities. The vibration damping is a performance advantage on longer rides, reducing fatigue and shock associated with carbon frames. It is appropriate for racing and for everyday use.

Tricycle, Jakarta Indonesia.

What’s the problem?
Bicycles are used for transportation all over the world. Some are specifically adapted for functions that are beyond general personal use.

  • Ask – What are the basic requirements for a bicycle as personal transportation?
  • Imagine – As new materials and manufacturing capabilities come along, how have bicycles changed to take advantage of these changes?
  • Plan, Create – Many bicycles are assembled from components. What parts can be pre-assembled as components or assemblies? How does this help bicycle manufacturers?
  • Improve – As cities get more crowded, more people are using bicycles to get around. How can bicycles be improved as manufacturing costs go down as the number of bicycles produced goes up?

That’s engineering

  • gears – mechanical parts with cut teeth designed to fit with teeth on another part so as to transmit or receive force and motion. Gears are also sometimes called toothed wheels or cogged wheels or cogs.

Engineering ideas

  • gears, complex machines, assembly, frame, metal tubing, welding, sprocket, chain, vibration

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • design a bicycle frame for the future. Imagine that you can use any material. What would your bicycle frame look like? What improvements would you make over conventional bikes of today?

News, updates

Learn more…

  • Bicycles
  • Bicycle – simple machines
  • Design Behind the Bike – Series explores the effect of science and technology on cycling and explores how the development in technology has changed bike design and build over the last 100 years. The series of five films explores the development of technology, components, materials and innovation used to build and design new bicycles for the current market. The series includes the history of the bicycle, Materials explores the products available to build bicycles, Frame Design looks at the developments in design techniques, the Wheels film explores the different components and their structure and Aesthetics looks at what influences the designer and the consumer.