People use bikes every day to get to and from work, to explore the city and countryside, to exercise, and as a leisure activity. The classic two-wheel bike has a surprising amount of thought, history, and purpose behind it. Here are a few fun bike facts to keep in mind the next time you jump on your favourite bike.
Fact #1 – Bikes are most popular in China
China can lay claim to being the country where the bicycle is most popular. Today, there are more than 500 million bicycles in China.
Fact #2 – The idea of a bike originates in Germany
Karl von Drais, a German baron, is the man responsible with coming up with the initial designs which are now used in contemporary bikes. In 1817, he invented a two-wheeled, pedal-less and horseless carriage as a means of helping him get around faster. It was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground. He called it a ‘draisine’ and it bears close similarity to the bicycle.
Fact #3 – The term ‘bicycle’ was first used in France
There are several developments which led to the modern bicycle design however the term ‘bicycle’ originated in France. First used in the 1860s, it referred to a two-wheeler with a mechanical drive.
Fact #4 – 100 million bicycles made every year
Bicycles continue to grow in popularity, in a world where environmentally sustainable traveling and transportation is an ever increasing priority. More than 100 million bicycles are manufactured and distributed worldwide every year.
Fact #5 – Orville and Wilbur Wright owned a bike repair shop
The same brothers who built the first flying airplane also operated a bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. It was at this bike repair workshop where the Wright brothers built the infamous 1903 Wright Flyer.
Fact #6 – The mountain bike’s design originated in the late 1970s
For years, the only type of bike there was was the general courier-style bicycle for general consumers. In 1977, the first prototype was developed for a more advanced style of bicycle customized to hikers and fitness enthusiasts. The prototype would go on to become a mountain bike.
Fact #7 – The Tour de France is over 100 years old
The world’s most famous bike race is the Tour de France which was first held in 1903. It was strategized as a way to generate publicity and increase sales of the local L’Auto newspaper. Today’s Tour de France is approximately 23 days long and is a men-only race.
Fact #8 – A bike is our most efficient vehicle
It is believed that bikes are the most efficiency vehicle human beings have ever designed. Regarding calories per kilometre, a bicycle expends more energy than a train, truck, airplane, boat, car, or motorcycle. Biking is also estimated to be 3-4 times as efficient as walking, and this figure is even higher when it comes to riding electric bikes.
Fact #9 – Bicycle delivery services
Bicycle courier services used to be very popular roughly a century ago however with the popularity of cars taking over mid-twentieth century, bicycle delivery went down. In cities today however, bicycle courier services are beginning to grow in size. The ability to weave through city traffic and to get items such as food to the customer faster than a vehicle can, bicycle courier services continue to get attention.
Fact #10 – Cycling is big bucks
The cycling sports category is the world’s most profitable sports good. Altogether, cycling is estimated at a worth of more than $51 billion dollars annually.
Fact #11 – A man circled the globe on a bicycle in 1935
Sure, you can’t technically travel the world exclusively by bicycle. If you could though, or if one were to lay claim to circling the globe on a bicycle, Fred Birchmore certainly could. In 1935, the 25-year old circled the globe as much as anyone can on a single bicycle. He travelled 40 thousand miles across Europe, Asia, and the United States, and pedalled more than 25,000 of those while traveling the remainder by boat. To get it done, he had to wear down seven tire sets.
Fact #12 – Biking around the world in 91 days
The world record for fastest time to bike around the world is 91 days and 18 hours, completed in 2012 and held by the UK’s Mike Hall. He biked 28,968 kilometres which equates to roughly 315 kilometres per day!
Fact #13 – Bicycles are more popular in Europe than North America
In the US, we’re still learning about the benefits of bikes. In fact, bicycles are used for less than 1 percent of all urban trips in the United States. Comparatively, 5 percent of all trips in Italy use bicycles while more than 30 percent of trips in Netherlands are done on a bicycle.
Fact #14 – 7 out of every 8 people in the Netherlands own a bicycle
The Netherlands are a region where bicycles are very, very popular. In the West, getting your license is a sort of graduating gift to adulthood. In the Netherlands, in the mid-teens, you receive a bicycle as a similar sort of generation pass-down.
Fact #15 – BMX is an Olympic sport as of 2008
Once held up as an example of alternative, underground culture, BMX-style bicycle track racing’s gone mainstream with the announcement in 2008 of it becoming an official Olympic sport.