News / History of Bicycling

The History of Bicycling part 3 May 5, 2010

All bikes from the previous 150 years were made of crap, looked like crap and were nothing but crap. It wasn’t until the true BMX bike was born that bicycles finally became something worth noticing. Few now know the true story of how BMX was born, but I will tell you.

Most know the story of how our dark lord Sauron was destroyed when the hobbit Frodo brought his ring of power into the cracks of Mt Doom. Although Sauron was destroyed the power of his ring was not completely lost. When the ring was melted into a vast molten sea of iron and steel its power was distributed throughout the liquid metal.

Centuries later, when the metal finally cooled and hardened, a new material was born. A metal that was harder and stronger and more metal then any metal ever before known to man. That metal was Chromoly. Bike builders tried to build bikes from this new indomitable metal but they could not shape the metal into any form of a bike they new. The metal seemed to want to become its own new type of bicycle… and through the hands of great craftsmen eventually it did. Carved from the very bones of the earth, from the ashes of the cold fires of Mt Doom itself BMX was born.

His eyes pierce through your soul with the power only BMX can give.

Any BMX bike fit to carry the name BMX is made from this one deposit of true chromoly. It is true that some other bikes made from inferior materials (like the bastard metal aluminum) try to call themselves BMX bikes, but of course, these are hardly worth noting in the history of bicycling and shall never last. In recent times some bike smiths have discovered ways to even further increase the greatness of Chromoly. For instance, it is rumored that Odyssey’s patented 41 Thermal metal is really just true Chromoly mixed with fingernail clippings from the dead god-man Hercules. Whatever the case, we know that BMX has been and always will be the child of metal’s metal: 4130 Chromoly.

In the beginning, sometime in the late 60’s, BMX was young and misguided. Often imitating the popular motocross bikes of the day. However, it was quickly understood by the new followers of BMX that motocrosses influence was not needed. Suspension systems and shock absorbers made you weaker. Large banana style motocross seats made you lazy and slow. There was no place for them in BMX.

Some examples of true metal. Mongoose and Webco bikes of the mid 70’s.

The late 70’s and early 80’s brought the birth of air.

The mid 80’s brought a lot of this.

And then the BMX warrior arrived from the wastelands. Mat Hoffman. Fully armored and ready to wield the Chromoly.

Mat Hoffman pedaled through snake infested waters to an amazing 65 MPH to achieve this 28 foot air.

As far as I know BMX history ended after that.

The History of Bicycling part 2 May 5, 2010

At the end of part 1 we had just seen the invention of the bikini. Now things take a much darker turn in the history of bicycling. The bicycles arch enemy the car is born.

As if the entire world simultaneously turned 16 and started driving the exploding bicycle industry abruptly comes to a halt as the world moves to the motorcar. The bicycles clean, quiet and simple transportation for the masses is replaced by the polluting, loud and expensive motorcar. Roads originally built for the bicycle suddenly become too dangerous to ride on and cycling turns from a wildly popular form of transportation into a side show.

Bicycle riders are now captured and forced to ride around on small oval tracks for heckling motorcar enthusiast enjoyment.

The auto industry, bent upon destroying the bicycling industry which it sees as competition, declares all out war on cyclists. Bounties are placed on the heads of cyclists and points are awarded on a nationwide level for running down “road hogging bicycles”. The bicycle industry retaliates by mounting heavy automatic machine guns on to all bikes sold through the 1920’s.

This dangerous trend continues for some 40 years. Even this child’s horse themed bikes from the 1950’s comes standard with a .38 caliber pistol and top tube mounted holster.

Luckily war and bloody death was not the only advancement made in bicycle technology. Thankfully there was also speed! In an  attempt to outrun the motorcar new technology in the bicycle world is driven forward. I know this might look like a joke but this is the bike I use for hill climb training.

No seriously, in 1941 some guy rode this crazy bike 108 miles per hour while drafting behind this thing.

Outside of all the drama on the busy roads Captian J.S. Fairdale was still continuing his mission to ride to the north pole. Here he at the summit of Mt Rainier in 1945.

Bikes of the 1950’s start to get really weird and weigh as much as cars.

To keep up with 1955’s growing demand for iPod compatible stereo systems in cars the bicycle industry invents its own iPod docking bicycle.

The volume goes to a whopping 16! Way louder then 11.

A direct result of government sponsored experiments with marijuana and LSD comes this Bowden fiberglass bike from 1964.

This 1970 Chopper is mostly what I ride for my daily 30 mile commute.

The 1972 Lemon Peeler expands on the ideas of the previous chopper but introduces a dangerous spike pointing directly straight up from the top tube instead of a pad or cushion like on modern day trick bicycles.

The beginning of the important part of bicycling history is here. Stay tuned for Part 3 of Fairdale’s the History Bicycling as we tackle BMX. Coming soon…

The History of Bicycling Part 1 May 5, 2010

The bicycle has been such a huge force in changing the world, yet its history is not commonly known and the impact of the bicycle can not be understated. The first roads were paved for the bicycle, cycling played an enormous part in the liberation of women, began the modern day assembly line manufacturing process years before Henry Ford,  and made personal transportation possible for the masses. Today Fairdale will begin an exhaustive several part series that will expose and explain the wonderful history of bicycling. Many hours of preparation and fact checking have gone into this informative series, we hope you enjoy.

One of the earliest known representations of the bicycle stem from drawings found in Leonardo da Vinci’s manuscripts. Orginally dated at 1493 the drawings were later believed to be faked.

Apparently the Leonardo was not actually designing a bicycle at all, he was simply trying to ease the laborious margarita making process with a motorized blender. Similar to the modern day Fender Blender above.

Oddly enough the first bicycle like device ever developed was created by accident. The legendarily well endowed Sir Edmund Hillary of Scotland commissioned a designer in 1825 to help him support his weighty man hood while walking. The designer misunderstood the written instructions and instead of a “loins” supporting device on wheels that was ordered he (through great pains) created a wheeled “lion” supporting device. Thus the first bicycle device was actually created for a large cat.  Eventually the mistake was corrected and Sir Edmund did indeed find the support he needed to carry on an ordinary life.

“Lions” or  Sir Edmund’s famous “Loins”. The bicycle can support them all.

The Smart Feller from 1829. This odd contraption was another early attempt to create the bicycle.

1835, this two person Segway never really caught on because everyone made fun of these guys for being on a Segway.

Camp Woodward X-games training camp opens its doors in 1858 to great popularity.

1880: One of the earliest known photos of Captain James Alibaster Fairdale, our namesake. His relentless attempts to ride his bicycle through the arctic tundra in hope of reaching the north pole are legendary. Despite repeated failures his indomitable spirit lives on today.

1885: An almost forgotten fact of history;  long before the Pope had an armored Pope-Mobile he would ride to battle against the devil on a specially designed bicycle.

1890: Bicycle shop employees have been playing the try-to-get-the-new-guy-to-smell-the-seat joke for over a century.

Because the Boneshaker bikes of the late 1800’s were so dangerous some company actually patented a handle bar that would fly off on impact freeing the riders legs so he could elegantly jump to safety. Seriously!

Few people know what a street shredder Dennis McCoy used to be. Here he pulls one of the first documented rails in 1896. Photo from BMX Plus!’ 32nd issue.

Bicyclists would often fight each other for rights to a smooth roadway. Not unlike today’s flatland riders and their rolling knife fighting battles over the center of that circle.

A women’s bicycle race from 1898. Until this point women had been forbidden to show their legs in anyway. The freedom of transportation created by the bicycle was irresistible to women of the age and quickly brought about a massive revolution in women’s freedoms.

Photo from 1899: A mere one year  after the women’s cycling revolution had begun and women all over the world were dressing like this so be more comfortable while cycling.

People often compare skateboarding to bicycling and debate which is better. Although it is true that skateboarding has given us the pop shuv-it and will someday give us the hover board, there is no match for the things cycling has given us. To top that list is with the advancing freedom and women’s liberation it has given the world the bikini. “Bikini” is even derived from the word “biking”.

The photo above from 1910 shows the now common place outfit we are all used to seeing women wearing while cycling. The bikini. Created in an effort to making bicycling more comfortable for women.

1894: Fixed gear hipster chick poses with her bike while smoking. Somethings never change….