The 1888 Safety bicycle - solid tyres and a steel frame
Note though the use of a chain transmission
The intention I have is to show how the cycling four tribes featured, namely High Performers, Thrill seekers Urban riders and Cargo Bikers have a common root namely the Safety Bicycle of 1888.
The Safety Bicycle was so named not for features that we'd consider particularly safe but it was safe when compared with bicycles like the Penny Farthing - the safety being more about the attitude the user adopts than for example its ability to stop - it had no brakes as we'd consider today.
The High Performers
Of course once a bike as an effective form of transport was available it was not long before speed became a topic of competition and through the years the speed capability of regular bicycles has improved both by design and by the performance of the cyclists.
|Definitely an example of a performance bike the Lotus 108|
The speed improvements of late though are less dramatic than in early days and this can be seen for example by comparting average speeds on the Tour de France.
We may note too that there are physical limitations of the 'engine' (the cyclist) that have meant that there were times when speeds were only attained by the use of artificial means (drugs and cheating).
Although improvements are now marginalised the use of technology in both the materials used in construction and the application of aerodynamic modelling can make some difference.
Chris Boardman MBE in his career epitomised the sporting performance rider now he acts as an evangelist for widening the take up of cycling in the urban environment as a positive public good.
The Thrill Seekers
|A fairly typical 'Thrill Seekers ' bike|
Another tribe of cycling enthusiasts are those exponents of BMX riding a mixture of the cultures of Cross Country Motorcycling , Surfing and Skateboarding - one of the big names in this sport is
Shanaze Reade a young woman who epitomises the excitement and individualism it offers to younger people particularly in the urban areas of cities.
One of the areas of London famous for this sport and activity ( a hub you could say) is Peckham a long way from the home of BMX in California.
The Urban riders
Perhaps the most significant group of cyclists today are those described in the exhibition as Urban Riders - this might seem a catch all category and it certainly wide and disparate, it can be those who travel by bike for fun and socially or who use it for their daily commute - like the previous 'tribes' design improvements have had an effect - a rider of a small folding bike these days is less likely to have punctures and be covered in oil from their chain.
|The UK's Brompton 3 stage Folding|
Sadly though they are an 'endangered species' when forced to share crowded roads with heavy traffic and facilities for safely storing their machines are still too scarce.
The Brompton story is an education in how a worthwhile product can gather dedicated followers and an excellent export record for the UK.
The Brompton Company is now based not far from me in Brentford West London.
The Cargo Bikes
As well as being used by Messengers in such Sc-Fi TV programmes as Dark Angel (quite allegorical I suppose) there's a real future for bicycles as delivery vehicles in major cities particularly those that are mainly flat like London.
|The Boxer Rocket - use it for your weekly shop|
Recently at the Design Museum the forward thinking environmentalist John Thackara spoke about how the use of bikes was actually economic already and is supplanting more traditional white vans in some parts of Europe - in this section we can see bicycles that can carry goods and passengers reducing harmful pollution.
Here the rather pricey Boxer Rocket nearly £5000 UK) is an alternative (almost) to the family car.
Red 325I'm not too sure when Maggie's (a mainly burger joint in Ealing's Broadway) went red it started off a couple of years ago with a mainly white façade accented with some red but while I wasn't looking (fairly recently I guess) it went redder, don't know if this is a reflection of anything but might give it another try sometime
|Maggie's -The freshening up made it redder|