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52

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 ...


37

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 ...


24

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 ...


20

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

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). ...


17

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 ...


16

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 ...


14

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. ...


13

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 ...


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 ...


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.


7

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 ...


7

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 ...


6

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 ...


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 ...


5

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. ...


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

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 ...


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 ...


3

Besides all technical aspects race speed is also a question of racing strategy. As long as there is no escape group no team might feel responsible for making pace, so the peleton might ride "slowly". Once there's an escape group the peleton might decide to keep some distance so they can catch up later, while the escapers might safe energy for a final sprint ...


3

Norco is still around. You could probably start by getting in touch with someone there. http://www.norco.com/


3

A recent view is that technology was less of a factor vs. sociological factors. The main sociological difference between the Penny-farthing and today's bicycle frame is the perspective of safety: the rider wants to feel safe or not. In the times of Penny-farthing mastering a difficult to ride horse/vehicle was a major feat, and riders wanted to show of ...


2

Norco and Nishiki of this era were really the same bike. The company that imported them in the U.S. and Canada did so under two different names so that they could manipulate the market more effectively. Many of these frames were manufactured by Kawamura of Japan. The serial numbering schema has been worked out by some bicycle geeks. If you can find the ...


2

Amongst the other factors, the TDF is an outdoor event and therefore subject to climate change. A few kph change in average wind speeds can cause a few kph difference in the achieved average speeds. It is known that wind speeds have been rising by 5-10% over the last quarter-century (thanks to Colin Pickard for the link), and France's climate is dominated ...


2

Also worthy of note, the riders are still human - maybe they SEEM super human, but i promise they are still human. So at the end of the day, humans have limits, TDF shows this every year in the highlights and low light reels.



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