What Is a Bicycle?

A bicycle is a two-wheeled vehicle that’s propelled by pedals and steered with handlebars. It’s the primary means of transport in many places and an important recreational activity for millions of people around the world. People use bikes for exercise, commuting to work and school, and traveling long distances. They can also be fitted with accessories that help them carry luggage or passengers.

A bike can convert up to 90 percent of the energy the rider puts into it into kinetic energy. This kinetic energy, in turn, makes the wheels of the bike spin. The wheels are attached to a frame that connects to the cranks and handlebars. This frame and other parts are made of metal, carbon fiber or other lightweight materials, or plastic.

The design of a bicycle can vary greatly, depending on its intended purpose. For example, a racing bicycle may feature carbon fibre components to improve its performance and agility. While a touring bicycle may be built with heavier materials to provide durability and comfort for longer rides.

Choosing a bicycle depends on personal preferences, available time, fitness goals and weather and road conditions. If you’re going to commute on busy city roads, a hybrid bicycle may be the best option. It’s designed to be comfortable for riding on paved urban cycleways, while allowing you to tackle rougher terrain if you want to.

Bike manufacturers often source their raw materials from all over the world and then build them into completed frames in their own factories. This allows them to ensure consistent quality, exert control over production, and encourage local development in cities they work in. It also supports fair labour practices and environmental sustainability.

The most common material for frame and fork tubes is steel, though aluminum alloys have become increasingly popular as a result of their lighter weight. Both of these metals are durable and can be easily shaped to the desired dimensions. Other key components include pedals and axles, chain and derailleur systems, and brakes.

Handlebars are an important component of a bicycle because they affect the rider’s posture and comfort. They come in three styles: upright handlebars, drop handlebars and flat handlebars. Upright bars are standard on most bikes because they offer a more natural riding position that’s easier to maintain for long rides. Drop handlebars are more aerodynamic but can be uncomfortable for beginners because they’re lower than upright bars. Flat handlebars offer a more relaxed and upright posture and are most commonly found on commuting bikes.

Other components that can be added to a bicycle include mudguards, pannier racks and seat posts. Some of these accessories can be used to make a bike more comfortable for riders with back problems or other health issues. Others are purely functional, such as reflectors to increase the rider’s visibility.