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Where did cycling design diverge?

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Where did cycling design diverge?

Old 06-04-11, 03:51 PM
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Sargeist
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Where did cycling design diverge?

I was curious looking at older American and European styled single speed coaster brake equipped bikes and was curious if anyone had any ideas as to why in American they went with fat tires and beefy frames back in the day and why in Europe they prefered skinny tires and classic full frame designs. Any ideas?
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Old 06-04-11, 04:06 PM
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American



European

It seems that didn't change much over the years...
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Old 06-04-11, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Sargeist View Post
I was curious looking at older American and European styled single speed coaster brake equipped bikes and was curious if anyone had any ideas as to why in American they went with fat tires and beefy frames back in the day and why in Europe they prefered skinny tires and classic full frame designs. Any ideas?
Back in what day?

"American" balloon tire bikes first appeared in the late '20's/early '30's, died out in the '50's-ish with the rise of the "English lightweight", then reappeared in the early '80's in parallel with the development of the "mountain bike". That's a very, very rough timeline, but like with many things developments appear, disappear, then are "rediscovered". Bicycle design is a *ahem* cyclical thing.

FWIW, Supa: I'll take a Duck over a Hog any day.
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Old 06-04-11, 05:25 PM
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A more accurate picture of European motorcycle wouldn't be an expensive Italian toy, but a 125 or 250 lightweight. These are the motorcycles that people used for transport due to high fuel costs.
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Old 06-04-11, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
A more accurate picture of European motorcycle wouldn't be an expensive Italian toy, but a 125 or 250 lightweight. These are the motorcycles that people used for transport due to high fuel costs.
And that's also an accurate picture of European vs. American single-speeds. In Europe, they're very utilitarian, go-to-shopping type bikes. In the U.S., they're "beach cruisers".
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Old 06-04-11, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Sargeist View Post
I was curious looking at older American and European styled single speed coaster brake equipped bikes and was curious if anyone had any ideas as to why in American they went with fat tires and beefy frames back in the day and why in Europe they prefered skinny tires and classic full frame designs. Any ideas?
What are you talking about??? Can you post examples ... pictures and dates?
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Old 06-04-11, 08:04 PM
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I think a lot of it has to do with the Europe being the home of bike racing. America was more into
automobile racing. Also in America most bikes were ridden by kids that rode over every thing and
the larger tires worked better. Remember in the fifties when bikes had all the chrome and tanks and
racks and dual head lights and some even had turn signals.
Mine had dual head lights and a tail light and dual mirrors, a rack front and rear, about 1955, weighed
about a ton? It was a Flying "O"!
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Old 06-04-11, 08:58 PM
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Example a 30's Hiawatha vs a 30's Clubman
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
file_91_3.jpg (17.1 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg
clubman.jpg (7.0 KB, 35 views)
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Old 06-04-11, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Sargeist View Post
Example a 30's Hiawatha vs a 30's Clubman

And?
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Old 06-04-11, 11:42 PM
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If I understand the question correctly - aided by the two pictures - the answer is that Americans were bored with bicycles by the 1930s and so they became toys for children. That never happened in Europe and England and so their bicycles continued to be used by and developed for adults.
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Old 06-05-11, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Sargeist View Post
Example a 30's Hiawatha vs a 30's Clubman
OK, so now post a picture of the European step-through city bicycles which are still available in many bicycle shops in France, Belgium today.
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Old 06-05-11, 07:59 AM
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Populations in the US were more rural and there was a larger road network that was likely far worse than most city streets in Europe at the time... I think that might have had something to do with it as well... I know I'd take the balloon tires on the back roads around here that are gravel and full of ruts and potholes. Older French porteurs had pretty wide tires as well, so in another sense we're kind of talking apples and oranges here... any American racing bikes from the time would look more like the clubman I reckon.

Exhibit A: Jean Jean 1940 Porteur:

source: http://velo-porteur-ancien.over-blog.com/

As for American racers of the time there are a few examples worth checking out.

Certainly the popularity of different kinds of cycling changed but it wasn't like the dark ages over on this side of the pond either.
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Old 06-05-11, 08:16 AM
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I have to wonder if some of you (including the OP) have been to Europe. Have you had a look at the bicycles there ... the common every-day use bicycles? The old ones and the new ones in the shops? Have you had a look at the cobblestone pavement?

Based on the OP's pictures in post #8, he seems to think that the photo on the right shows what all European-style bicycles look like, and yes, some of them do look like that. But there was, and is still, a large collection of heavier, more solid, often step-through bicycles which many Europeans use to go to the shops and other places across the cobblestone streets.

More streets are smoothly paved now in Europe (thank goodness!), but there are still sections of cobblestone. And from my experience riding cobblestone and a variety of gravel roads, I don't like riding gravel, but I prefer it to cobblestones. Gravel packs down a bit! But then I ride a bicycle with narrow tires and would probably handle both better with wider tires.
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Old 06-05-11, 09:32 AM
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In the UK, the USA cruiser style of bike is a fairly recent fashion trend. Kids bikes since the 1960s have been choppers, then BMX.
There are a lot of cobbles in my city and they are very tricky with narrow tyres. I switched to a 26" urban bike with Big Apple tyres and my speed over cobbles increased.

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Old 06-05-11, 12:11 PM
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When the Mid Atlantic ridge began separating the continents..

way before beer was invented.
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Old 06-05-11, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Sargeist View Post
I was curious looking at older American and European styled single speed coaster brake equipped bikes and was curious if anyone had any ideas as to why in American they went with fat tires and beefy frames back in the day and why in Europe they prefered skinny tires and classic full frame designs. Any ideas?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwinn...pression_years

When Ignaz Schwinn came out with a new bicycle style in the 1930's, he imitated the earlier board-track-racer motorcycles of the 1905-1920 era. The bicycles had gas tanks and were even called "motorbicycles".
During the board-track-era, bicycles used tires that were usually 28"x1-1/2" tubulars, while motorcycles used tires that were the same height (roughly) but wider, 2 to 3 inches.
Schwinn used 2.25" wide tires on his bicycles to make them look more like the motorcycles.
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Old 06-06-11, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I have to wonder if some of you (including the OP) have been to Europe. Have you had a look at the bicycles there ... the common every-day use bicycles? The old ones and the new ones in the shops? Have you had a look at the cobblestone pavement?

Based on the OP's pictures in post #8, he seems to think that the photo on the right shows what all European-style bicycles look like, and yes, some of them do look like that. But there was, and is still, a large collection of heavier, more solid, often step-through bicycles which many Europeans use to go to the shops and other places across the cobblestone streets.

More streets are smoothly paved now in Europe (thank goodness!), but there are still sections of cobblestone. And from my experience riding cobblestone and a variety of gravel roads, I don't like riding gravel, but I prefer it to cobblestones. Gravel packs down a bit! But then I ride a bicycle with narrow tires and would probably handle both better with wider tires.
I live in Belgium and I can tell you that the main heavy duty bicycle are exactly as you describe, they are step through, sometimes fixed gear usually affixed with racks/panniers and the occasional basket. So many people bike over here from little kids to people in their 60's-70's.

I should take a picture next time I bike to Eindhoven and share the copious amount of bicycles on the road, I would say 95% of them are step throughs
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Old 06-08-11, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
If I understand the question correctly - aided by the two pictures - the answer is that Americans were bored with bicycles by the 1930s and so they became toys for children. That never happened in Europe and England and so their bicycles continued to be used by and developed for adults.
This is the best explanation I've seen. If you look at US bicycle ads from the 30's to the 60's you will see that the majority of balloon tire and middleweight bikes were aimed at children. They had styling cues to mimic motorbikes, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, etc... The more "gingerbread" and chrome items that were on the bike, the more the child wanted it. A 75 pound single (or two) speed Black Phantom with all the extras was no problem for a healthy kid in the 50's. Hey, as long as it was cool! We didn't have video games back then to make them soft...
Adults in the US were more interested in motorized transportation and most had abandoned bicycles. After WWII they had lots of disposable income too. In Europe, bicycles were still necessary transportation for many adults.
Planned obsolescence is another American sales gimmick. Make this years model appear so much better than last years to keep the customer coming back for more. You don't see much of this in Europe which is why a Raleigh DL-1 (or Sports) from the 1930's looks almost identical to one from the 1980's.
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Old 06-08-11, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by supafast213 View Post


American



European

It seems that didn't change much over the years...
Well, no.

The first two methods for high-speed land racing were board-track racing and speed trials at the Bonneville salt flats.... -and both originated entirely inside the US of A.
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Old 06-12-11, 07:29 AM
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Something else that is not so obvious is that both then and now, practically all of the cruiser bikes were made in a "medium" frame and possibly in a smaller 24"-wheel size frame, but not a "large" frame. IE, they were to fit kids, not adults.
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Old 06-12-11, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by supafast213 View Post


American



European

It seems that didn't change much over the years...
You can go back even farther than that:

English Saddle:


Western Saddle


Look at the position of the stirrups and the large pommel on the western saddle. The western saddle is more like a recliner and more comfortable for longer ride times.

Ultimately, these design styles carried over into motorcycles with European bikes having a more upright or forward leaning position and American bikes built for the long haul with relaxed, reclined positions. Apparently, the same can be said about bikes as well.
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Old 06-12-11, 11:25 PM
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I think part of the reason is the distances covered and the uses of the transportation mediums. Americans have always had to travel further for the most part than Europeans. It's more comfortable to spend long times in a western saddle, it's easier to spend long hours kicked back on a Harley than crunched up on a Duc (though not nearly as much fun!) and it's easier to do long miles on a big tired sprung seated Schwinn than a Raleigh Roadster given the bolt upright riding style of both.

I realize it's much easier with the back bent a bit, but you get the picture.
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Old 06-13-11, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Hippiebrian View Post
I think part of the reason is the distances covered and the uses of the transportation mediums. Americans have always had to travel further for the most part than Europeans. It's more comfortable to spend long times in a western saddle, it's easier to spend long hours kicked back on a Harley than crunched up on a Duc (though not nearly as much fun!) and it's easier to do long miles on a big tired sprung seated Schwinn than a Raleigh Roadster given the bolt upright riding style of both.

I realize it's much easier with the back bent a bit, but you get the picture.
The Schwinn bicycles that originated the motorbike style were essentially toys--they were made for children & youth.

During the 1930's in the US, much of the public works projects undertaken by the government were building paved roads, particularly rural roads and highways.
Many adults who had not considered a car useful enough to own before that (because of a lack of paved roads) changed their minds and sales of adult bicycles dropped significantly as car sales began to rise, leaving children as the main market for bicycle manufacturers (a condition which has persisted to this day in the US).
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