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40 votes

Why do we say we "ride" and not "drive" bicycles?

I imagine the difference has to do with the relevant analogy from when bikes and automobiles first started. One "rides" a bike because it is very similar to what one does when one rides a ...
R.M.'s user avatar
  • 501
38 votes
Accepted

Why did curved forks disappear?

The main reason is the materials used. Basically, on all bikes with bent forks the bent forks are made of steel. Steel has been mostly replaced by carbon and aluminium. While steel is heavier, it is ...
airace3's user avatar
  • 2,380
31 votes
Accepted

Why are bicycle gear ratios computed as front/rear and not the opposite?

I think it's simpler than what many think. Car and motorcycle drivetrain is a reductor: their ratio (driver to wheel) < 1 in most cases. Bicycles are the opposite: the wheel normally turns faster ...
Zeus's user avatar
  • 1,038
30 votes

Why are disc brakes (disc & caliper) always installed on the left side of the bicycle?

On the rear, the disk rotor is on the left side of the bike to keep it away from the contaminants around the chain and cassette. This is why QR skewers have their levers on the left side of the bike ...
Criggie's user avatar
  • 124k
25 votes

What happened to Belgium's bicycle registration scheme?

These plates were actually not "registration plates", but proofs of payment of the bicycle tax — so you had to renew them every year. The bicycle tax has been removed from 1986 to 1998 (...
Renaud's user avatar
  • 19.2k
22 votes

What happened to Belgium's bicycle registration scheme?

In Switzerland liability insurance for bikes was mandatory. Until 1989 a metal number plate had to be mounted to the bike (Velonummer). From 1989 to 2011 bikes had to have a sticker (Velovignette). ...
gschenk's user avatar
  • 9,650
17 votes

Why did curved forks disappear?

Frames and forks were made of tubes that are brazed into lugs. Lugs are cast standard parts. Frames are sized by using tubes of the correct length. The respecive production processes makes lugs stiff ...
gschenk's user avatar
  • 9,650
16 votes

Why did curved forks disappear?

A big part of the change from curved to straight forks is the engineering requirements for disc brakes. Curved forks provide structural flexibility, in that forces applied to the tire become ...
RLH's user avatar
  • 1,620
15 votes

Why the backwards fork?

As already said in the title of the Wikipedia page, these bikes are intended for motorpaced racing on track. The backwards fork allows the rider to stay closer to the derny motorcycle for more ...
ojs's user avatar
  • 22k
12 votes

Tour de Trump/Tour DuPont routes?

Are you still looking for stage maps? I have the Tour DuPont program books from 1993, 1995 & 1996. They include a map and a profile of each stage. Also have Lance Armstrong's signature in the ...
BicycleGuy's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Why are post ~'80s bike finishes so "dull"?

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 (...
sleske's user avatar
  • 2,309
10 votes

Tour de Trump/Tour DuPont routes?

This is not a proper answer. Its more a collection of notes gleaned from different sources. Feel free to add more if you find other things. 1989 The first Tour de Trump, a 10-day, 837-mile bicycle ...
Criggie's user avatar
  • 124k
10 votes
Accepted

When did bicycle chains go back to being bushingless?

There is a book written by Frank Berto titled The Dancing Chain - History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle. The fourth edition was updated in 2012. On page 368-369 he discusses chain design ...
mathieu van rijswick's user avatar
10 votes

Why did curved forks disappear?

In addition to what was discussed in other answers, there is one significant detail: flat mount disc brakes. The flat mount brakes that are almost universal on road bikes require a flat mounting point ...
ojs's user avatar
  • 22k
10 votes

Were older bikes generally longer?

Yes, the first "safety" bicycles had longer frames and rear triangles than current performance-oriented bikes. For example, have a look at this photo of world class track cyclists from 1907: ...
ojs's user avatar
  • 22k
9 votes
Accepted

Why is Shimano's 105 groupset called 105?

This is a non-answer because I've been looking at Japanese bicycling sites and blogs and no one really knows. The closest answer is found here: 105の名の由来とは? 最後に、各グレード名の由来についての豆知識を紹介します。...
RoboKaren's user avatar
  • 29.3k
9 votes

Why the backwards fork?

Riding with the fork backwards like that results in a geometry with an extreme amount of trail. This tends to make the bike stable in a straight line at high speeds, so it was done for high-speed runs,...
BetterSense's user avatar
  • 3,366
9 votes

Why are bicycle gear ratios computed as front/rear and not the opposite?

When talking about bicycle gearing, the overall theme (in my mind) is translating rotations of the crank to distance traveled. Historically, I believe this was used to translate the gearing of "...
Paul H's user avatar
  • 4,101
8 votes

Why/how did flat bars take over?

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 ...
Chris H's user avatar
  • 58.4k
8 votes

Why are bicycle gear ratios computed as front/rear and not the opposite?

The front-over-rear ratio for the drive train on a bicycle describes how much faster the rear wheel turns than the rider's cadence. The rear-over-front ratio for the drive train on a motorcycle ...
RLH's user avatar
  • 1,620
8 votes

What happened to Belgium's bicycle registration scheme?

In Belgium one of the reasons why the scheme was scrapped was that it cost more to collect the tax, issue the plates and have the police check the validity than it would produce income for the state.
Carel's user avatar
  • 8,299
8 votes

Why do we say we "ride" and not "drive" bicycles?

This is an interesting question, but realistically better on English.SE than Bicycles.SE I suspect it is the difference between being enclosed vs seated on-top or astride the vehicle. You would ride ...
Criggie's user avatar
  • 124k
7 votes

Why did Shimano name them V Brakes?

Apparently they were invented by a guy called Florian Wiesmann who called his brakes "Wies-brakes", which sounds a lot like "V brakes" to an English speaker. In 1991 he made this brake: Apart from ...
Móż's user avatar
  • 23.5k
7 votes

Why are bearing ball sizes measured in imperial units?

My father worked at Fafnir Bearings for 35 years and even though it ceased to exist as an independent company about 50 years ago, the trademark is still active. In the post World War 2 era, Japan ...
Stanley Pawlukiewicz's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Has anyone ridden fenders in a Grand Tour?

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 ...
Hugo's user avatar
  • 1,359
7 votes
Accepted

Why/how did flat bars take over?

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 ...
Rider_X's user avatar
  • 30.6k
6 votes

Which countries have employed rail biking in their armed forces?

From the Military History Journal (Volume 4 No 1 - June 1977) there is an article entitled BICYCLES IN THE ANGLO-BOER WAR OF 1899-1902, by D.R. Maree, which seems to fit this question. The 'War Cycle'...
Ken Graham's user avatar
6 votes

Why is 53/39 known as "standard" for road bikes?

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 ...
R. Chung's user avatar
  • 14.1k
6 votes

Tour de Trump/Tour DuPont routes?

I know this thread is super old but the 1990 version ran through my home town of Saugerties NY, ran through West Saugerties and up Devils Kitchen into Cairo. Platte Clove/ Devils Kitchen is a very ...
Kristen Heuvel's user avatar
6 votes

Why are bearing ball sizes measured in imperial units?

I don't have the real history of industry type explanation, which would probably involve the personalities and business leanings of people working at OEM hub/headset/BB/pedal manufacturers over the ...
Nathan Knutson's user avatar

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