Bicycle evolution has come a long way since the first bikes began rolling around. Although the evolution of the bicycle has changed drastically over the years, the basic principles have remained relatively unchanged. There are a lot of great bicycles that deserve recognition for their contribution to cycling; however these are the top 11 vintage bicycles that most deserve recognition.
The Penney-farthing is the iconic vintage bicycle. These bikes are easy to spot because they have a huge front wheel with an extremely small rear tire. It was common for people to fall off of the Penney-farthing. Although they were far from the safest bicycle, the basic technology of a bicycle evolved forward from the design of the Penney-farthings.
10. Dandy Horse
The very first bicycle style vehicle ever was the Dandy horse. The Dandy horse was the first mode of transportation to implement 2 wheels. There was no pedaling; it was made operational by kicking your feet on the ground like the Fred Flintstone moves his stone-aged car. Technically the Dandy horse cannot be considered a bicycle: however the Dandy horse was definitely the initial inspiration that eventually led to the first actual bicycle.
The first actual bicycle with a crank and pedals was the Velocipede. The very first Velocipede was simply a Dandy horse that had been pimped out to include a crank and pedals. Today the term Velocipede refers to any form of bicycle: however the Velocipede here refers to the first Dandy horse that became a bicycle when cranks and pedals were added to it.
8. Raleigh Sport
After the Second World War ended, the Raleigh bicycle company began making even lighter bicycles that were more technologically advanced at the time when compared to a lot of other bicycle manufacturers. The Raleigh Sport is the type of bicycle that was seen all over in the 50’s and 60’s. The Raleigh Sport pictured here would have made you the coolest kid on the block.
7. Military Bicycles
There have been numerous times in our history when the Military have used bicycles. One of the most exciting uses of bicycles in the Military was with the American Bicycle Corps in the late 1800’s. This was an all black military unit that literally explored solely by bicycle. Any bicycles used by any Military Unit anywhere in the world deserves off a lot of respect. The bicycle is much more than a simple toy for kids, it is a mode of transportation and a utility tool used around the world for the betterment of society. The Military use of bicycles just reinforces this perspective.
6. Pinarello Prestige S 1984
5. 1960’s Rollfast
Rollfast had a very successful business during the Great Depression. While many companies were struggling to stay afloat, the Rollfast bicycle company was able to actually expand their business. From the late 19th Century up until the 1970’s Rollfast bicycles were made. The 1965 Rollfast vintage bicycle was one of the last years this bike was ever made. They were not the most technologically advanced, but they were sturdy, reliable, and easy to find parts to fix them when they broke down.
4. 1981 Stumpjumper
The 1981 Specialized Stumpjumper was the first mountain bike ever mass produced. This bike might look old compared to today’s full-suspension bikes with carbon fiber frames, however this bike was very high-tech when it was first released. This was the bike that started the world-wide mountain bike phenomena that we have today. This bike showed people that bikes could be ridden off of the paved paths and roads. The stumpjumper opened up a whole new world to cyclists everywhere, as long as they could afford the $750.00 price tag for the 1981 Stumpjumper.
The 1981 Stumpjumper is a relatively new bicycle compared to some of the other vintage bicycles on this list; however the evolution of the 1981 Stumpjumper to the 2012 Stumpjumper is drastically different. The technology used in the high-end mountain bikes of today such as full-suspension and lightweight carbon fiber frames that can hold up to abuse could not have even been imagined by most mountain bike enthusiasts in the early 1980’s.
3. The Edison Film
Thomas Edison, yes the guy who is maybe the most famous inventor of all-time, filmed one of his buddies in 1899 on a mountain bike. The bike looks a lot like the 29er single speeds that we ride today. Although this is probably not the first bike tricks ever, it is the oldest video of trick riding on a bicycle. The bicycle is very modern, by today’s standards. Edison was truly a cool dude!
2. La Francaise
1. Schwinn Phantom
The Schwinn Phantom is one of the most popular bikes made by Scwhinn back in the day. The influence Schwinn had on people was truly amazing. Almost every family had at least 1 Schwinn bicycle. The Scwhinn Bicycle Company of today is drastically different. Schwinn makes a few high end bicycles that are worth buying but you will not find them at a mass department store such as Wal-Mart. Schwinn also sells some crappy bikes that are cheap and worthless to stores such as Wal-Mart. If you buy a Schwinn from Wal-Mart then you will be sorely disappointed in the quality of the bicycle. The Schwinn Company basically sells cheap bikes to mass department stores and lets them slap their name on the frame.
There are many great vintage bicycles. Many of these bicycles can be picked up relativelye cheaply. Restoring an old bicycle can be a lot of fun to do. It is even more fun to take the newly restored vintage bicycle for a spin around the block when you get it restored. Riding bikes is a fun and healthy activity. Who knows? Maybe the new bike you are riding today will be worth a lot of money in the future. Probaby not, but you never know because the future of bicycle technology will remain unknown for the majority of us.
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