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The Anatomy of a Bicycle

By: Roberto Sedycias

A bicycle or just cycle is a human-powered vehicle driven by pedals. It has two wheels which are attached to a metal or in some cases hard plastic frame, one at the front and the other at the back.

History of a bicycle

The bicycle was first introduced in Europe in the 19th century. Presently their number is exceeding one billion throughout the world. They are used as a principal mode of transportation in some areas of the world, especially Netherlands and China. They have also developed as a very popular form of entertainment and recreation. Other fields of human activities that they have been adopted are adult fitness, children`s toys, police and military applications, cycle sports and courier services. Thus over the period of time the humble bicycle has assumed quite a few roles!

The basic configuration and shape of a common bicycle has been altered very slightly since the first model driven by chains was developed back in 1885. However, some subtle details have been made better with the growing use of computer and improvement in material technology. Using modern technologies have made it possible to produce specialized designs for different kinds and uses of cycling.

Parts and Construction of a Typical Bicycle

Wheels - it is the most important part of any vehicle. The initial wheels used a wooden hub with a steel axle, spokes made of wood and an iron tire which is fitted on the outside. The wheels used today have a metal hub, metallic wire spokes, a metal rim to hold the spokes and a pneumatic rubber tire on the outside. Another important part of the wheel are the bearings which allows free movement of the hub on the axle.

Frame - most of the bicycles used today has the diamond frame. It`s made up of two triangles, the front and the rear. The front triangle has the top tube, head tube, seat tube and down tube. Head tube is the part containing the headset of bearing to allow smooth steering, the top tube connects to the seat, and the down tube connects the head tube and bottom bracket. The rear triangle has the seat tube, seat stays and paired chain stays.

Drivetrain - it consists of the pedals, which rotates the crank arms, which in turn are attached to a sprocket or chainrings which drives the chain and makes the rear wheel rotate.

Seating and Steering - steering is made possible using the handlebars which turns the front wheel. For seating there are saddles on the top of the frame. The seating can be designed for comfort or to make cycling smoother and faster.

Brakes - the brakes used in modern bicycles are either rim brakes that uses pads to compress the wheel from 2 sides and stopping it, internal hub brakes that has the pads inside the hubs or disc brakes. Braking in bicycles is hand-operated by pressing the brake levers installed on the handlebars on either side.

Suspension - it is the system incorporated to make the cycling experience smoother.

Accessories - parts like mudguards to avoid spray from puddles, chain guards to save clothes from oils, kick stands to keep the bicycle upright while parked have become permanent features of a bicycle. Other accessories like front baskets, rear racks, space for head lamp, a pump, helmets, tool kit etc are also available as per ordered.

The use and development of bicycles have affected mankind in a bigger way than it seems. It has affected history in both industrial and cultural realms. In the initial years, bicycles and its construction were dependent on the technology that existed; more recently, its technology in turn has given forth ideas in different areas.

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