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First introduced in 19th-century Europe, bicycles now number over one billion worldwide.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical bicycle's frame, wheels, pedals, saddle, and handlebars have hardly changed since the first chain-driven model was developed.

Pushbikes - The first documented ancestor of the modern bicycle was introduced in Paris in 1818. It was powered by the action of the rider's feet pushing against the ground and two in-line wheels connected by a wooden frame. The rider sat astride and pushed it along with his feet, while steering the front wheel.

Dwarf Safeties - By adding gearing, reducing the front wheel diameter, and setting the seat further back, and introducing the chain drive. These models were known as dwarf safeties, or safety bicycles, for their lower seat height and better weight distribution. Soon, the seat tube was added, creating the double-triangle, diamond frame of the modern bike.

Freewheel - Soon the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast without the pedals spinning out of control. This refinement led to the 1898 invention of coaster brakes. Derailleur gears and hand-operated, cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders. By the turn of the century, bicycling clubs flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, and touring and racing were soon extremely popular.

The goal for strength and low weight made aluminum alloy frames popular and their affordability now makes them common. More expensive carbon fiber and titanium frames are now also available, as well as advanced steel alloys.

Diamond - Nearly all bicycles feature the diamond frame, a truss, consisting of two triangles: the front triangle and the rear triangle. The front triangle consists of the head tube, top tube, down tube and seat tube. The head tube contains the headset, the set of bearings that allows the fork to turn smoothly for steering and balance. The top tube connects the head tube to the seat tube at the top, and the down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket. The rear triangle consists of the seat tube and paired chain stays and seat stays. The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket to the rear dropouts. The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube at or near the same point as the top tube to the rear dropouts.

Women’s - Women's bicycle frames had a top tube that connected in the middle of the seat tube instead of the top, resulting in a lower stand over height at the expense of compromised structural integrity, since this places a strong bending load in the seat tube, and bicycle frame members are typically weak in bending.

Hybrid - While some continue to use the women's bicycles frame style, there is also a hybrid form which splits the top tube into two small top tubes that bypass the seat tube and connect to the rear dropouts. The ease of stepping through is also appreciated by those with limited flexibility or other joint problems.


Upright - Upright handlebars curve gently back toward the rider, offering a natural grip and comfortable upright position.
Drop - Drop handlebars are "dropped", offering the cyclist either an aerodynamic "crouched" position or a more upright posture in which the hands grip the brake lever mounts.
Straight - Straight handlebars can provide better low-speed handling due to the wider nature of the bars.

Cushioned - With comfort bikes and hybrids the cyclist sits high over the seat, their weight directed down onto the saddle, such that a wider and more cushioned saddle is preferable.
Racing - For racing bikes where the rider is bent over, weight is more evenly distributed between the handlebars and saddle, and the hips are flexed, and a narrower and harder saddle is more efficient and allows more free leg swings.
Design - Differing saddle designs exist for male and female cyclists, accommodating the genders' differing anatomy.

Back Pedal Coaster – These brakes were the rule in North America until the 1960s, and are still common in children's bicycles.
Internal Hub - These brakes have the friction pads contained within the wheel hubs, or disc brakes. A rear hub brake may be either hand-operated or pedal-actuated. Hub drum brakes do not cope well with extended braking.
Rim – These brakes use friction pads that are compressed against the wheel rims. Rim brakes are used in hilly terrain.
Track Cycling - Brakes are not required for riding on a track. Riders are still able to slow down because all track bicycles are fixed-gear, meaning that there is no freewheel. Without a freewheel, coasting is impossible, so when the rear wheel is moving, the crank is moving. To slow down one may apply resistance to the pedals.

Some components, which are often optional accessories on sports bicycles, are standard features on utility bicycles to enhance their usefulness and comfort.
Chainguards - protect clothes and moving parts from oil and spray.
Helmet - a necessity and legally required in some jurisdictions and classified as an accessory by other jurisdictions
RoadSide Assistance - It is also possible to purchase roadside assistance preferring to leave maintenance and repairs to professional bicycle mechanics. Others maintain their own bicycles, enhancing their enjoyment of the hobby of cycling.
Technical accessories include cyclocomputers for measuring speed and distance. Other accessories include lights, reflectors, tire pump and security locks.
Toe straps - help to keep the foot planted firmly on the pedals, and enable the cyclist to pull as well as push the pedals.
Tool Kits - Many cyclists carry tool kits, containing at least a tire patch kit tire levers, and hex wrenches. A single tool once sufficed for most repairs. More specialized parts now require more complex tools, including proprietary tools specific for a given manufacturer. Some bicycle parts, particularly hub-based gearing systems, are complex.

Utility bicycles - A utility bicycle is one which is designed for a practical purpose, as opposed to "sport bicycles" which are designed for recreation and competition, such as touring bicycles, racing bicycles and mountain bicycles.

Mountain bicycles - A mountain bike or mountain bicycle is a bicycle designed for mountain biking, either on dirt trails or other unpaved environments. In contrast, road bicycles are not rugged enough for such terrain.

Racing bicycles - A racing bicycle is a bicycle designed for road cycling according to the rules of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). The UCI rules were altered in 1934 to exclude recumbent bicycles. Throughout the late 1990s the rules were altered regularly to outlaw innovations.

Touring bicycles - A touring bicycle is a bicycle either specially designed for, or modified to handle bicycle touring. What makes a touring bike different from other bicycles is its ability to carry gear on racks mounted to the front and rear of the bicycle frame.

Cruiser bicycles – Cruiser bicycles are balloon-tired bikes with heavy-duty frames. Their wide tires and simple mechanicals (usually single speed with coaster brake) are ideally suited to riding on flat sandy beaches.

BMX bicycles - BMX a form of cycling on specially designed bicycles that usually have 20-inch wheels. The sport includes races on earthen tracks, as well as the performances of tricks

Recumbent bicycles - A recumbent bicycle has a reclined chair-like seat that is more comfortable than a saddle, especially for riders who suffer from certain types of back pain, but this is a compromise in terms of handling and short-term power generation as the common technique of standing off the saddle in order to sprint or climb cannot be utilized.

The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient. In terms of the amount of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance, investigators have calculated it to be the most efficient self-powered means of transportation. Air drag, which increases with the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs with increasing speed. The rider's body creates the greatest amount of drag on an upright bicycle, compared to just the bicycle itself, at about 75% of the total drag.

A bicycle stays upright by being steered so as to keep its centre of gravity over its wheels. This steering is usually provided by the rider. A bicycle must lean in order to turn. This lean is induced by a method known as countersteering, which can be performed by the rider turning the handlebars directly with the hands or indirectly by leaning the bicycle.

Bicycle suspension refers to the system or systems used to suspend the rider and all or part of the bicycle in order to protect them from the roughness of the terrain over which they travel. Bicycle suspension are used primarily on mountain bicycles, but are also common on hybrid bicycles, and can even be found on some road bicycles as they can help deal with problematic vibration.

The drivetrain begins with pedals which rotate the cranks, which connect to the bottom bracket. Attached to the (usually right) crank arm may be one or more chainrings or sprockets which drive the chain, which in turn rotates the rear wheel via the rear sprockets (cassette or freewheel). Various gearing systems may be interspersed between the pedals and rear wheel; these gearing systems vary the number of rear wheel revolutions produced by each turn of the pedals.

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