Single Speeds

By Mike Evans with Introduction by Greg Glassman

In Sports Applications

February 01, 2006

PDF Article

There are few subjects that match bicycles and bicycling for inspiring a broad range of interest, controversy, and passion. Physics, physiology, law, culture, sport, history, and engineering all come to play for the tribe of cyclists.

Invented in 1817 by Karl Drais Saverbronn, 46 years after the first car, the bicycle is a miracle of muscular and thermodynamic efficiency.

No means of locomotion, mechanical or animal, can match the thermodynamic efficiency of the bicycle.

Thermodynamic and muscular efficiency combine to make the bicycle peerless in producing long-term, high-powered human output.

With the invention of the derailleur in 1889 the cyclist was then able to quickly change gearing on the fly and hold much of this efficiency over varied terrain, speed, and wind conditions.

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