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60

The simplest answer to your question is that 1) speeds have increased; but 2) speeds would have increased even more except Tour organizers have been consciously making the Tour harder in order to increase the drama, suspense, and entertainment value of the race. That makes comparisons of overall winner's speed quite complex when combined with normal ...


43

There are a few "pseudo-facts" I think might be at play in this graphic: You mentioned 10% of increase, say from 35km/h to 40km/h average speed. That is a VERY significant increase. Anyone well trained can sustain 35km/h average for some time even in a mountain bike, but FORTY km/h is MUCH HARDER to sustain, and that's because aerodynamic drag is ...


33

What really struck me though was that the average speeds really haven't changed much The chart ranges from about 25km/h to over 40km/h, and that is a big change. As others have mentioned, increasing your average speed requires a non-linear increase in power applied to the pedals. In other words, to increase average speed from 25km/h to 26km/h is easier ...


27

I think the simple reason is that the drivechain hadn't been invented. In 1818 the dandy-horse or draisine was invented. This was similar in shape to a modern bicycle, but without pedals. Riders would scoot along with their feet. If you want to go a bit faster, especially on any kind of incline, then you need a better way of putting power in. Without a ...


22

It's likely a matter of convention, dating back to the first "safety bicycles" introduced in the 19th century. Drivetrains are on the right today because that's what bicycle builders decided to do in the late 1800s. As to why they originally decided to put drivetrains on the right, it's probably because rear cogs used to be screwed on (some still are). ...


21

People were doing tricks on bicycles almost as soon as they were invented. While I couldn't find references about curb hopping in particular, I'm pretty sure that these tricksters from the late 1800s wouldn't have had a problem pulling it off. Cyclocross has roots that go almost as far back. The first organized cyclocross races were around the end of the ...


19

I am not a bike expert, but a computer programmer. The problem with this question is that there is no control to compare it to. Each year the TDF changes. They visit different parts of Europe, yes it is not 100% in France. This means you can't compare times between years. Weather (not climate) is a concern. The temperature, wind and humidity will impact ...


19

The Tour de France is primarily an endurance event, where team strategy is more important than outright speed. In addition there are UCI rules for racing bicycles. This includes a 6.8kg weight restriction that has been in place since 2000. If you want to compare outright speeds it would be more interesting to look at how the average speed of the time ...


18

It only seems strange to you because you've had the benefit of never having to learn the lessons of the penny farthing and the technological achievements of the safety bicycle firsthand (aka 'standing on the shoulders of giants syndrome'). The penny farthing is only awkward and dangerous because you are comparing it against a technological leap forward. ...


11

Last year I plotted average speed versus race distance and there's an incredibly accurate inverse relationship. http:///www.32sixteen.com/2011/07/25/correlation-does-not-equal-causality/ But to add to my chart and flesh out the reason I think it hasn't increased so greatly. The Tour is a stage race. The average speed we have presented is the average ...


10

Don't forget, when the penny farthing was invented, horses were still a major mode of transport - when you see people on horseback regularly, the idea of sitting that high up doesn't seem unreasonable.


9

This is a "penny-farthing" bike. You mount it by putting a foot on the step above the back wheel, you push off, then climb up it towards the pedals as it moves away. (Like this video shows.) The front wheel was so large for a couple of reasons: Since the pedals were connected directly to the wheel, the bike could go faster if the wheel were larger; and also,...


9

We just pulled the front wheel up and dropped it as we went over the curb, then we kept riding, letting momentum pull the rear wheel over the bike. It's what I still do. (I don't have a BMX bike.) Sheesh. So much fuss over a simple and second-nature action we never even gave a 2nd thought to.


8

Note that if you have a penny farthing, then hopping curbs really isn't much of a problem. You do have to be careful not to do an end-over but a bit of leaning back on the saddle or hooking your legs on the front bars would do the trick. Some various positions for penny-farthing MTBing: Note that solid rubber tires had an advantage over modern ...


8

If you look at drawings of old bikes, both types of brake configurations are depicted. This supports the idea that it was merely a design choice with no significant pros and cons over other configurations other than aesthetics. I suggest that it just so happens that builders in the place and time period you cited used this design because it was fashionable. ...


8

This is not a complete answer, but one factor certainly is that nowadays bikes often use powder coating as their finish, rather than liquid paint. Powder coating has signifcant advantages over paint (more resilient coating, no risk of running, no solvents required), but the surface characteristics are different. In particular, the sparkle effect of metallic ...


7

There are multiple terms for those: Penny-farthing (after two coins of different sizes) High-wheel or High-wheeler Ordinary (contrasted to the "safety" bicycle that came after it) Bicycle is what they were called during their heyday velocipede or vélocipède is a term for any human-powered vehicle and would often have been used to refer to them when they ...


7

Caveat: This answer features rampant personal speculation and anecdotal evidence. I personally the current dominance of flat bars in mainstream cycling is the result of two main events: The flood of cheap 10 speed knock-offs entered the market in the 70's and 80's. The explosion of MTB bikes in the 80's and 90's (which featured flat bars). Event 1: ...


7

Yes, for smaller ones. No, for full mudguards. Tour de France Here's Team Katusha using them on the ‘Paris Roubaix stage’ of the Tour de France in 2014, according to Stickybottle: While mudguards are fitted to most bikes used by racing cyclists for winter training, it’s against the rules to use them competing. Not only would they hugely ...


6

This question makes a category mistake, I reckon. In that the Tour de France is not a competition done to finish an enormous amounts of kilometers as fast as possible -- as would be the case with a marathon for runners; where they athletes do indeed go faster and faster. The only aim the winner of the Tour has, is to be faster than the number two in the GC. ...


6

It is a little known fact that the Wright Brothers invented the left-hand thread for the left-hand pedal in 1900. Therefore, up until then it is highly unlikely that bicycles used any left-hand threads on them at all. Therefore, as noted by @Eric Silva the chainset could have been on the right because that is the simplest way for the sprocket to have been ...


6

The guy using it apparently is Hans-Henrik Oersted who was sponsered by chinelli. The company recently did a rerun of two jerseys to honor him. The picture can also be found on cinellis website about the jerseys so i wrote a request for information to their customer service. They answered it is a handmade trainer build especially for Hans-Henrik Oersted in ...


6

Flat bars are easier to learn on than drop bars (unless the latter have interrupter brake levers). At this stage low speed manoeuvrability matters more than efficiency. Some people with small hands apparently have trouble braking firmly from the hoods and getting into the drops is tricky for a novice (I dismiss starting in the drops as I've never got on with ...


6

There's a short answer to your question and a longer fuller answer. The short answer is that a common standard for road cranksets is 130mm BCD (bolt circle diameter). The smallest inner chainring you can use with 130 BCD is a 39 (as Kibbee has said, technically you can get a 38 tooth 130 BCD chainring although that doesn't leave much metal between the lower ...


5

As others have pointed out, The TdF is an endurance race. It's not about all out speed. For a better idea of how bike technology has increased, check out the list of Hour record holders. This is done on an indoor velodrome, with no other people on the track to the person can't draft. The premise is to ride as far as you can in a single hour. The ...


5

OPINION Drop bars should never have been popular. There was a surge in popularity for the "ten-speed" in the 70s and 80s, and part of that look was drop bars. This artificially made drops seem like a common thing and a good idea. As the MTB arrives in the 90s, flat bars re-exert themselves for the added width and leverage, returning drop bars to their ...


4

To the best of my knowledge, and my ability to find reference in any old catalog or tech manual, no, that concept has not been tried on a commercial scale at least. It may have been tried on a local scale. I don't have the math to prove it, but I suspect the balance point between how thin the spokes would need to be to reduce the weight enough to offset the ...


4

Although 29ers have been around since the early 80's they have only been in production from a major producer for the last decade. Trek was the first big brand to offer a 29er in early 2000's. Reasons why you may not of seen many are: Until the last couple of model years model years 29er's have predominatly been in the XC category (HT and FS) while ...


3

Two things that must be considered when looking at the average speeds of the Tour de France are strategy and racing dynamics before you look at the numbers. The main strategy objective for any of the teams in the Tour is to go only as fast as you must to achieve a given objective while doing the least amount of work possible. If teams could win the tour ...



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