A bicycle, often called a bike (and sometimes referred to as a "pushbike", "pedal bike", "pedal cycle", or "cycle"), is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist.
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, adult fitness, military and police applications, courier services and bicycle racing.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright bicycle has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. However, many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for diverse types of cycling.
The invention of the bicycle has had an enormous effect on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were invented for the bicycle, including ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, and tension-spoked wheels.
Famous quotes containing the word bicycle:
“I well recall my horror when I heard for the first time, of a journalist who had laid in a pair of what were then called bicycle pants and taken to golf; it was as if I had encountered a studhorse with his hair done up in frizzes, and pink bowknots peeking out of them. It seemed, in some vague way, ignominious, and even a bit indelicate.”
—H.L. (Henry Lewis)
“Consider a man riding a bicycle. Whoever he is, we can say three things about him. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. Most important of all, we know that if at any point between the beginning and the end of his journey he stops moving and does not get off the bicycle he will fall off it. That is a metaphor for the journey through life of any living thing, and I think of any society of living things.”
—William Golding (b. 1911)
“Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)