A bicycle is a machine that uses the human body’s energy to drive two wheels, one in front and the other behind, on a frame. It is a form of transportation, recreation, exercise, and sport, with more than one billion in use worldwide. It is also an important source of energy, and is a primary tool for advancing modern industrial processes. The bicycle has become an integral part of culture and society.
Bicycles are relatively easy to learn to ride. They are very simple machines, with the only moving parts being the pedals and the chain connecting them. The bicycle’s simplicity and low cost make it an accessible vehicle to all people. It is used as a primary mode of transportation in many developing countries, and is an important recreational activity. The bicycle has also been a key tool for health promotion.
The bicycle is a good exercise for all ages and fitness levels, because it requires little strength to get started. It is a great way to burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness, which helps reduce risk for heart disease. Cycling can also build lower-body muscles, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings. It’s also a great form of cross training for runners, because it can help improve their speed and endurance.
Although not well suited for war, the bicycle has been utilized in military operations as a means of transporting soldiers and supplies into combat zones. It was especially useful in the Boer War, and both Germany and Japan employed bicycle troops during their 1937 invasion of China. The bicycle can be used for long-distance travel at an average speed of 16-24 km (10-15 miles) per hour.
The origin of the bicycle is disputed. One theory is that German Baron Karl von Drais patented his draisine in 1816, a pushbike that was powered by the feet pushing against the ground. Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick MacMillan is also credited with creating a pedal-powered bicycle, but it did not gain wide acceptance until the early 1860s when French mechanic Pierre Lallement improved on a cumbersome velocipede de pedale by adding cranks and chain-driven sprockets to the rear wheel.
The name bicycle comes from the Ancient Greek words bi (meaning “two”) and kuklos (circle, wheel). It superseded the earlier velocipede. The word has also been influenced by the Italian bici, Dutch bike, and French bicyclette. Bicycles have been transformed by numerous technological innovations, including ball bearings, pneumatic tires, and chain-driven sprockets, and have helped to shape modern industry and technology. For example, many automobile components were developed in response to the needs of cyclists. The bicycle is a very efficient vehicle, using less energy than other forms of transport. It is often a more environmentally friendly alternative to cars, buses, and trains, and can be as fast or faster than walking or running. It can also be more convenient than a taxi, and can be used in remote areas where cars are difficult to access.