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Though the wheel was invented thousands of years back why did it take so long to inve

Old 12-08-20, 03:33 AM
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jamesmustain
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Though the wheel was invented thousands of years back why did it take so long to inve

Hi,

They say the modern bicycle was invented only around 1800 plus though the wheel was invented thousands of years back. Why did it take so long for a natural evolution. Was it just the fear of balancing ?

Thanks!
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Old 12-08-20, 03:46 AM
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Blame the horse, the sabertooths, and the velociraptors. It's more bada** to ride them than a bike!

"necessity is the mother of all inventions" back in the days when horses are relatively easy to get, there were no need for bikes.....And you can't shoot arrows with any accuracy from a bike rolling over bumpy off-road or gravel roads!
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Old 12-08-20, 03:58 AM
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'Safety Bicycle', around 1880. Mass production of precision lightweight chains may have been the limiting factor prior (just a guess). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_bicycle
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Old 12-08-20, 04:00 AM
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Primarily a lack of suitable self-propulsion I think. Gears have existed for a long time but they've always been heavy.
Early wheels were likely just fitted onto axles with grease and the propulsion was always external (horses, people).

To get a self propelled bicycle you need pedals and gears on something light enough to move fast enough to stay upright.

Other factors would be suspension and road surfaces - neither is a big deal if you're on a huge cart moving at 2mph.
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Old 12-08-20, 05:22 AM
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I saw the article here last year that gave some theories on this, along with examples of some early human powered vehicles from as early as the 1400s but the author ends up believing that innovation happens in spurts and often economic conditions dictate when innovators have time to get inspired vs. just feeding and housing themselves and family.
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Old 12-08-20, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Herzlos View Post
Other factors would be suspension and road surfaces - neither is a big deal if you're on a huge cart moving at 2mph.
More like over 20 mph! Ancient chariots reached 24 mph over gravel or cobblestones in those times.

https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.ed...history/birth/

Existing transport technology of the time would far surpass the performance of a bicycle if it could be built during the same period so there's absolutely no need for bicycles.

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Old 12-08-20, 06:47 AM
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Leisure time. For centuries the concept that people could have time set aside to pursue a pastime was limited to the wealthy. Even today, most riding is leisure (fitness/sport/pleasure).

While some people commute to a workplace, those commuters are not lugging around hundreds of pounds of equipment needed for their trade.

John

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Old 12-08-20, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
More like over 20 mph! Ancient chariots reached 24 mph over gravel or cobblestones in those times.
Good point, I was thinking wheelbarrows and horse carriages. Ancient chariots often had some kind of floating platform suspension though if I recall correctly?
You certainly couldn't perform the same role with a bicycle as you could from a chariot.
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Old 12-08-20, 07:03 AM
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People would’ve been riding bicycles 1000 years ago, but they had not yet invented Lycra.
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Old 12-08-20, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
More like over 20 mph! Ancient chariots reached 24 mph over gravel or cobblestones in those times.

https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.ed...history/birth/

Existing transport technology of the time would far surpass the performance of a bicycle if it could be built during the same period so there's absolutely no need for bicycles.
Fallacious reasoning. From this page:

Throughout the 1890s, racetracks from coast to coast held exhibition races between bicycles and horses. These races were typically held in relay, consisting of several laps around the track, sometimes over distances of 10 to even 30 miles. The jockeys were allowed to switch horses every half mile or mile, while the cyclists had to keep at it on a single bike. Even still, the results of these races varied from race to race, with the finishes always being incredibly close!
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Old 12-08-20, 08:34 AM
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Did anyone learn of the Industrial Revolution in school?
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Old 12-08-20, 09:10 AM
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Combination of need and technology... the first two wheeled vehicles had no drive train and came about during a brief famine in Europe when a lot of horses were eaten. These had their enthusiasts and eventually someone came up with the idea of the drive train.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Did anyone learn of the Industrial Revolution in school?
Basically this. Until the industrial revolution developing things like consistent wheel builds would be the issue, developing frame designs or cost of one off construction on a random item. Looking at the earliest bicycle designs they are clearly a shot in the dark at developing a concept but without industrialization such an item would be long and difficult to develop, things like chains require industrialization for any real consistent development which is why the earliest were basically kick bikes till they developed hubs with crank spindles. Even these couldn't be fully explored since who wants to plant their ass on a leather saddle with no rubber on the solid wood wheels. So rubber had to be developed in order to make them more comfortable to begin with, let alone making them safer over smoother surfaces. If industrialization went away so would the most basic fixie or singlespeed since we'd still need the tires.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jamesmustain View Post
Hi,

They say the modern bicycle was invented only around 1800 plus though the wheel was invented thousands of years back. Why did it take so long for a natural evolution. Was it just the fear of balancing ?

Thanks!
It was largely due to materials. The laufmaschine...”running machine”... invented by Karl Drais in 1817 had to use the materials of the era. In 1817 all he had to work with was wood. Ball bearings had been invented in 1794 but they weren’t widely used. Wagon wheels used grease...likely animal grease...to reduce friction but that only went so far. Brakes of the era on wagons was a hide against the wheel that was mostly ineffective. They wouldn’t have been on a velocipede. Drais’s machine (usually called a draisinne) was thus heavy, slow, without a drivetrain because the roller chain wasn’t invented for another 63 years, and no brakes. It was a daring thing to get on one and something that only the “dandy” would do. Hence even another name for the laufmaschine...the dandy horse.

About 1840 a Scottish blacksmith put cranks through the front wheel...still wooden...so that the rider could propel the bike forward without the “running” part. But from pictures I’ve seen the wheel is about 24” in diameter which meant that it would have been slow even if the rider were pedaling like a demon was behind him. It likely still used the slip bearings from wagon wheels so it would have been a very hard slog to keep moving.

Wheels grew in size so that the rider could go faster but they were still made of wood and were heavy. In 1869, the wire wheel was invented and bicycles became significantly lighter. That started the first bike boom...the ordinary or penny farthing. The safety cycle came along in 1890 and that started a second bicycle boom.

Then cars came along and killed the whole industry for nearly 70 years.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:33 AM
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A little off-topic, but I don't think the wheel was ever literally invented. We may have evidence of it being used many thousands of years ago, but it was likely being used long before any historical records can be found.

Even rolling a heavy object over a log is a form of wheel and it couldn't have been long after that when a clever caveman realized if they stuck a smaller log through a hollow log, they could make use of it like a rolling pin, for example. Hence, the wheel.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:47 AM
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It is logical to assume that no one thought of a 2 wheel machine as being viable. First came the striders, and then when steering was put on a strider, someone realize by steering they could maintain a balance. The rest as they say is history. Too bad that it did take so long.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:52 AM
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Roads.

Without a pretty modern mountain bike setup, even the most modern metropolises of yesteryear would not have had good enough streets and roads for what they could have made back then.

Roads were muddy, rutted, covered in thick large planks. Even in cities, the cobbles weren't as worn and smooth as today. Today that's the result of 1000 years of wear and smoothing.
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Old 12-08-20, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
More like over 20 mph! Ancient chariots reached 24 mph over gravel or cobblestones in those times.

https://eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.ed...history/birth/

Existing transport technology of the time would far surpass the performance of a bicycle if it could be built during the same period so there's absolutely no need for bicycles.
While a horse might be able to run like that, they can’t do it for very far. Modern horses at full gallop can run about 2 miles at 25 to 30 mph. The Belmont Stakes is the most grueling part of the Triple Crown and it is only 1 1/2 miles long and is a test of any race horse’s abilities.

Stagecoaches, for example, travel about 5 mph with frequent horse changes. Seldom would stagecoaches have run at the “hell bent for leather” pace portrayed in western movies.

The fastest horse driven messenger system, the Yam system developed by Genghis Khan, was able to move messages 120 to 190 miles per day but they changed horse and rider every 20 miles. And that distance was covered over 24 hours so the speed was 5 to 8 mph.

We silly little monkeys on our silly 2 wheel contraptions can far out perform a horse in terms of speed and distance. They may be faster over a shorter distance but we are faster over a longer distance. Even in the days of the ordinary, century rides had to be completed in 10 hours to win a medal. No single horse could probably do that distance at that speed.
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Old 12-08-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Roads.

Without a pretty modern mountain bike setup, even the most modern metropolises of yesteryear would not have had good enough streets and roads for what they could have made back then.

Roads were muddy, rutted, covered in thick large planks. Even in cities, the cobbles weren't as worn and smooth as today. Today that's the result of 1000 years of wear and smoothing.
+1. Bicyclists...most notable the League of American Wheelmen...were at the fore front of the “Good Roads Movement”. Motorists today tell us to “get off their roads” without knowing that we bicyclists go the damned roads built in the first place.
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Old 12-08-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
We silly little monkeys on our silly 2 wheel contraptions can far out perform a horse in terms of speed and distance. They may be faster over a shorter distance but we are faster over a longer distance.
That reminds me: I live in Amish country, and see horse-drawn buggies all the time. One day, on a short climb, I passed a young man and a woman in one...They were either brother and sister or were courting. As I went by, the young man grinned and said, "Wanna race?"

I replied, "I think you've got more horsepower!"
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Old 12-08-20, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by fujidon View Post
A little off-topic, but I don't think the wheel was ever literally invented.
I had a yo-yo trick book when I was a kid that claimed the yo-yo was invented by the youngest son of the guy who invented the wheel.
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Old 12-08-20, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Fallacious reasoning. From this page:

Throughout the 1890s, racetracks from coast to coast held exhibition races between bicycles and horses. These races were typically held in relay, consisting of several laps around the track, sometimes over distances of 10 to even 30 miles. The jockeys were allowed to switch horses every half mile or mile, while the cyclists had to keep at it on a single bike. Even still, the results of these races varied from race to race, with the finishes always being incredibly close!
The thread is about the possibility of having bicycles thousands of years ago, not the 1890's

We're talking using technology and engineering expertise that is a lot more primitive than is available during the 1890's
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Old 12-08-20, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While a horse might be able to run like that, they can’t do it for very far. Modern horses at full gallop can run about 2 miles at 25 to 30 mph. The Belmont Stakes is the most grueling part of the Triple Crown and it is only 1 1/2 miles long and is a test of any race horse’s abilities.

Stagecoaches, for example, travel about 5 mph with frequent horse changes. Seldom would stagecoaches have run at the “hell bent for leather” pace portrayed in western movies.

The fastest horse driven messenger system, the Yam system developed by Genghis Khan, was able to move messages 120 to 190 miles per day but they changed horse and rider every 20 miles. And that distance was covered over 24 hours so the speed was 5 to 8 mph.

We silly little monkeys on our silly 2 wheel contraptions can far out perform a horse in terms of speed and distance. They may be faster over a shorter distance but we are faster over a longer distance. Even in the days of the ordinary, century rides had to be completed in 10 hours to win a medal. No single horse could probably do that distance at that speed.
Good point, but the thread is about bicycles IF invented thousands of years earlier so we can't compare to 19th or 20th century bicycles.

Sure we could probably think of a fast gravel bike using 500 B.C. technology but we have the hindsight of modern bicycle design and modern engineering principles. The best engineers of the period would do a lot worse if tasked to invent a bicycle.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
We silly little monkeys on our silly 2 wheel contraptions can far out perform a horse in terms of speed and distance. They may be faster over a shorter distance but we are faster over a longer distance. Even in the days of the ordinary, century rides had to be completed in 10 hours to win a medal. No single horse could probably do that distance at that speed.
When we go back to humans as hunter/gatherers and its still true of modern aboriginals that live traditionally, we can out run horses in the long haul. Its what made us the superior hunter, we could run any prey to ground no matter how long the chase. I've got a friend who runs centuries, I wouldn't want to but its totally feasible.
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Old 12-08-20, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Good point, but the thread is about bicycles IF invented thousands of years earlier so we can't compare to 19th or 20th century bicycles.

Sure we could probably think of a fast gravel bike using 500 B.C. technology but we have the hindsight of modern bicycle design and modern engineering principles. The best engineers of the period would do a lot worse if tasked to invent a bicycle.
The 1817 invention of the bicycle is probably about the earliest something that has two wheels in line propelled by foot could have been invented. Earlier than that and the parts simply couldn’t have been made light enough for a human to propel it more than just down hill. The start of the Industrial Revolution is a bit nebulous but 1760 would be a good general start date. That’s only 50 years before the laufmaschine’s invention and the start of being able to make standardized parts. Wheels would have had to be hand made previously and weren’t likely to be all that light weight nor would they have turned smooth enough for the speed needed to keep the rider moving forward. The fact that it took another 1/4 century for someone to put a crank on the wheel is testament to how difficult the development of the bicycle was.

Most every thing that has been invented can only be invented when it is invented. The laufmaschine couldn’t have been invented without lightweight carriage wheels which were made possible by the industrial revolution. The crank on the front wheel couldn’t have been possible without the ball bearings that allowed machines to move more freely. The ordinary couldn’t have worked with carriage wheels...too heavy...and could only have been developed with wire spoked wheels.

In 500 B.C., the materials of construction simple were too heavy and didn’t move without enough friction for a bicycle to be possible. Di Vince may have been able to conceive of a bicycle type object but he simply didn’t have the materials to make it work. He conceived of a glider as well but, again, he just didn’t have the materials to make it reality.
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