Evolution of the Bicycle

Evolution of the Bicycle
The Ordinary bicycle, with its large front wheel, spread around the world.
Ariel 1870

The first model to define the features of the ordinary bicycle.

At a bicycle factory in Conventry, England, James Starley along with William Hillman designed the Ariel, an ordinary bicycle prototype that employed ribbon wheels which produced a patent for tension spokes. The Ariel is said to have been named after a so-called "tricksy spirit" appearing in one Shakespeare's works. This bicycle, a first with its all-metal construction, was even lighter than its predecessors, and it was the world's first model to employ a center steering head which is still used today in modern-day bicycles. Thanks to its adjustable crank and a number of other epoch-making new mechanisms, the Ariel racked up record speeds of between 23 and 24 km/h.
Salvo 1876
The appearance of an easy-to-ride tricycle.
The first tricycle mass-produced by Coventry Lever, it was equipped with a Lever gear built by James Starley. The three-wheeled Salvo built by Starley, incorporated innovations such as a lighter frame, spoke wheels, and a highly advanced chain drive. It also placed emphasis on performance. In particular, the use of a balance gear or double-drive gear enabled smoother turning on curves because the outer wheel in respect to the curve was able to spin faster than the inner wheel. It was also equipped with a lamp for nighttime rides, and became a popular vehicle because it was more convenient and accessible than a horse carriage.
Kangaroo 1878
Ordinary bicycle employing the first gear system and having a smaller rear wheel.
The Kangaroo, with the world's first gear system, added brakes to the ordinary cycle which had become more and more dangerous due to the increasing diameter of the front wheel for riding at faster speeds. Patented by Otto and Wallace, this model had independent right and left chainwheels driven by their own chains, enabling fast speeds even with a smaller front wheel.
Bayliss Thomas 1879
The Bayliss Thomas was the climax of ordinary bicycle beauty and was the most complete model to date.
The Bayliss Thomas actively incorporated a variety of new technologies to provide a more comfortable ride and achieve faster speeds. With this model, the once solid steel frame was replaced by hollow tubing including the front fork. This ordinary employed plain bearings in the wheel axles and achieved a weight of only 22 kg with the use of radial spokes, rubber pedals, and other light-weight innovations.

Evolution of the Bicycle
The safety cycle, with nearly identical front and rear wheel sizes, appears.
Lawson Model 1879
First leg-powered bicycle driven by a chain to the rear wheel.
In 1879, an Englishman by the name of Harry John Lawson produced the first bicycle driven by a chain to the rear wheel. He positioned the pedals in between the front and rear wheels, and had the pedaling motion conducted to the rear wheel via a chain. It was not until five years later in 1884 that a model, named the Lawson Bicyclette, appeared which could withstand the rigors of actual use
Dicycle 1880
Achieved popularity by replacing two-wheeled models with three-wheelers.
The most successful dicycle was invented by the Englishman E.C.F. Otto during the heyday of the ordinary cycle in 1880. Its two large wheels placed side by side were driven by a left and right pedal. The vehicle enabled smooth turning by relaxing the pedal on the side of the turn so that the wheel on the other side spun faster. Compared to the ordinary cycle which placed the rider high in the air, the dicycle offered a more stable feeling, placing the rider between the right and left wheels. This high degree of safety made it a hot topic as the vehicle of the times. Upon the introduction of the dicycle, the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in England almost immediately produced 1,000 of these vehicles.
Rover 1885

With equal-sized wheels, this was the prototype of the modern-day bicycle.

John Kemp Starley, a nephew of James Starley, the man who built the Ariel in 1870 and subsequently designed a number of safety bicycles, built the Rover with equal-sized wheels. This bicycle improved the performance of racing ordinaries which had reached their limit in the quest for speed in 1884. The saddle, handlebars, and crank axle were well balanced and logically placed, and this established the shape of the bicycle as we know it today. Two or three years thereafter, the bicycle's components such as the frame material, tires, variable speed gears, saddle, and chain were rapidly made practical.

The Bicycle Comes to Japan
It is said that the bicycle came to Japan in the closing days of the
Tokugawa shogunate (1860's).
Domestic Boneshaker 1877

Made smaller to fit the size of the Japanese body.

Domestically produced boneshaker dating back to around 1877. The iron frame, which was most likely produced by blacksmiths, was built on a smaller scale to fit the Japanese physique. The wheel diameter was also smaller, and when compared to the 36-inch front wheel and 32-inch rear wheel of the typical Michaux velocipede being produced in various countries, this boneshaker was a much smaller version.
Domestic Ordinary Bicycle 1890
Achieved popularity by replacing two-wheeled models with three-wheelers.

This ordinary had an artistic design that made the most of the uniqueness of Japanese manufacturing.

This domestic ordinary is thought to have built in Japan around 1888. Its stays for protecting against mud had a design that brings to mind an arabesque pattern, and the bicycle's wheels were finished with black lacquer, giving it a luxurious look. It is said that many of these ordinaries were manufactured in the Kansai region during the Meiji period, and due to their beautiful and careful crafting, it is thought that the Imperial Court carriage craftsmen of the period were responsible for building them.

Domestic Safety Bicycle 1892
The first safety bicycle trial manufactured in Japan.
This is the safety bicycle produce at the Miyata Gun Factory in 1892 by Eisuke Miyata, a gun expert employed by the Hitachi Kuni Kasama Clan. Eisuke, who held doubts concerning the future of gun manufacturing in Japan, trial manufactured Japan's first safety bicycle in 1892. He got involved in building an experimental model after being asked by a foreigner to repair a safety bicycle. The tubing used for the frame was manufactured in the same way as the piping used for guns: it was bored out lengthwise using a round steel rod. Except for the tires, the entire bicycle was built from scratch at the Miyata Gun Factory.
Fuji Hao 1928
Domestic bicycle that was a copy of an English model.
This was a luxury bicycle manufactured around 1928 by Nichibei Shoten. By 1905, Hisajirou Okazaki, the founder of Nichibei Shoten, had already handled a very large number of the English-manufactured Radge, thanks partly to the friendly relations between the two countries fostered by their alliance. After World War I, the Radge trademark reverted back to England, and thereafter, Japanese manufactures started building a similar model under the name Fuji Hao. The change in popularity from American to English cycles was not only due to the alliance between Japan and England, it was also influenced by the fact that the 26-inch frames of the English models fit the smaller physique of the Japanese better than the 28-inch models that were commonly found in America.


Postwar Bicycles
After World War II, bicycles in Japan evolved under a heavy American
and European influence.
Mitsubishi Jujigo 1947

The frame was made out of duralumin used in airplanes.

In 1947, a mere two year after the end of World War II, an airplane design engineer who had been designing the Isshiki Rikko at the former Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' Tsu Factory, produced the Jujigo, a bicycle with a duralumin frame. Using 2 mm-thick duralumin that was no longer needed for building planes, he came up with an innovative bicycle design crossing two rivet-fastened box structure frames which were widely used by ship builders at the time. The first model was based on an everyday bicycle from Great Britain, but from the second model on, they started basing the Jujigo on sports bicycles, and it continued to be produced up to a fourth model. The Jujigo was also ridden in the bike races of the period and it attracted much attention.
Everest Racer 1948

Employed parts from sports bicycles and others types of bicycles.

TSUCHIYA MFG. CO., which had been manufacturing track racing bicycles before World War II, began full-fledged production of such bicycles in November 1948 when the first race was held at a cycling stadium in Kokura, Japan. It is said that since parts for track racing bicycles were still hard to come by at the time, it was common to employ parts from sports bicycles and other bicycles instead.
Smart Lady 1956
Sold to consumers based on a monthly installment plan.
This was the first bicycle to be sold using a monthly installment plan. In 1956, bicycles were still considered to be a luxury, and with a price tag exceeding 10,000 yen at the time, it was not something the average person could readily afford. However, by allowing these bicycles to be purchased in monthly installments, sales of the Smart Lady were very successful, especially among woman. The Smart Lady later evolved into the staggered pleasure bicycle and the mini bicycle.
Mini Bicycle 1965
One-Piece Frame for both Men and Women
This is the Japanese mini bicycle said to have appeared around 1965 due to the influence of the English Moulton. Its one-piece frame for both men and women made it easy to ride and inexpensive. These factors helped stir up demand among woman, and almost immediately, the streets were overflowing with these bicycles. At the time, the bicycles were equipped with 16" and 18" tires, but later the tires grew to 20", 22", and finally 24" due to the conditions on Japanese roads.