First bicycle

The oldest bicycle in the world today is sitting on a ledge on the first floor of Glasgow's Riverside Museum. 

It was built around 1845 by the draper Gavin Dalzell in Lesmahagow.

Pedal-driven bicycles were invented in Scotland. The first is thought to have been built in 1839, by Kirkpatrick MacMillan. He was a blacksmith in Dumfriesshire.  

A human on a bike is claimed to be the most efficient creature on earth. So what does that mean? 

Well efficiency is a basic idea in engineering. It's the work done by a machine divided by the energy it uses. So maximum efficiency is 100%, which means all the energy you put in comes out as useful work.

Every real-world machine has an efficiency less than that, because some of the energy is wasted, usually as heat. A motor-car loses heat to the air from the engine, the exhaust and the tyres. So depending on speed, motor-cars have an efficiency down around 20%. 

A bicycle has an efficiency somewhere around 90%. And that's true even for the very earliest bikes like the one in the Riverside Museum. 

But efficiency isn't everything in engineering. The first bikes had solid wheels and saddles, no chain, no gears and no suspension. Take a close look next time you're in the Riverside Museum.

How far do you think you could comfortably travel on that old bicycle? 

Learn more about energy efficiency.

Science of bicycles.

No comments:

Post a Comment