Cycling is the best exercise loved by many. People in villages, suburbs, and towns can be found cycling back and forth from the workplace, marketplace and etc. in their daily routine. Cycling is a basic commute for some, others do it professionally, and some for leisure and fitness.
History of Cycling dates back to late 1400 when the idea was proposed by Gian Giacomo Caprotti. In the early 18 century, a civil servant named Karl von Drais made a practical cycle.
Later on, the cycle becomes the most common commute and great recreational activity, also, cycling races are now organized worldwide. Professional cyclists prepare for these races to win titles and handsome prizes.
Cycling is an outdoor activity recommended by many health and fitness experts. It keeps your blood in circulation and also a great workout to keep your body fit and active. It is a preferred recreational activity because you can do sight-seeing, enjoy the landscape, meet and greet other cyclists; maintain your fitness and good health.
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If you are interested in Cycling, normally you might have some idea about the types of bicycles available and their use. Generally, in Pakistan people have an idea about single gear bicycles used for normal commute called, China cycles, Sohrab, etc. These cycles are basically suited for normal roads, not for rough trails and bumpy paths. They have a durable frame with an additional rack, often used to seat another person or carry any item.
Another version of cycle is mountain bikes with strong frames and gears. You can change gears at your convenience i.e. if you are cycling on hilly areas or rough trails; Young teenagers are often seen riding these bicycles.
Professional cyclists in Pakistan are normally spotted on highways and countryside with lightweight, smart bicycles. You can often watch them riding alongside roads in cities and towns.
They have more sophisticated bikes in terms of speed, aerodynamics, frame weight, tire-size, frame material such as copper or aluminum, equipped with additional features such as pockets and supports for kits and cycling gears, etc.
Those planning to buy a cycle must first identify the purpose and place of cycling.
- For basic commute on normal paved and semi-paved roads
- For leisure and recreational activities on countryside, trails and unpaved road
- For drift, jumps, and tricks
- For professional cycling with a need for speed and durability
Once you have decided on your purpose of cycling, now the next step is select the bicycle from a variety of options available.
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Types of Bicycles:
- Standard bikes/Commuting bike:
Bicycle meant for city road, they usually don’t have gears to be shifted. They are single speed bikes with peddles to speed up with simple brakes. They have a rack to carry grocery or small errands. They are a good source for daily commute and exercise.
- BMX bikes:
A bicycle designed for thrift and speed on dirt tracks and competitions. It is known as a bike-motor cross (BMX) and they are single speed bikes. These are also preferred for tricks and jumps.
- Mountain bike:
These bikes have knobby tires for very uneven surfaces. They have suspensions for supporting the comfort of the rider on trails; they can be used on rough hilly areas as well as flat roads. Economical mountain bikes for recreational purposes, with less compact frames and components, may not bear the wear and tear of continuous rough rides and for that, you must find a good, high-end, professionally built mountain bike.
- Comfort bikes:
With many comfort features, these bikes give you an upright position to enhance ease of cycling. They have small and thinner wheels and are preferred for cycling trips and paved road.
- Road bikes:
Road Bikes are the trademark for speed and agility. They have down-turned handlebars to allow upright as well as other variations of grip (aerodynamic riding position) to maintain a high speed. They normally have thin and large size tires with a light frame to support precision.
Designed specifically for time trial events, these bikes have handlebars shaped like bull horns and shifters are at the end of aero bars or handlebars. It supports an upright position and allows maximum aerodynamic stretch.
- Fixed gear bikes:
These bikes have a single gear and normally you cannot freewheel or coast on this bike. In some indoor events, these bikes compete in steep banked oval tracks also called Velodrome. The riders must use their leg to stop cranks or peddles from turning as most of the time they do not have brakes. But other variants of these bikes made for outside have brakes and a variety of handlebars. People love fixed gear bikes because it gives them feelings of nostalgia, as in past all bikes were fixed gear. Cyclists prefer it as foul weather bike.
- Tandem bikes:
These bikes have seating arrangements for two people and both can paddle at a time. The frame and tires are designed accordingly to support two people and ride on flat non-bumpy, paved roads.
- Kid’s bike:
These bikes are designed specifically for kids to ensure their safety. They normally have training wheels attached to the rear side of the cycle to provide balance and support. The frames are strong and all features of bikes are scaled down to maintain the highest level of balance and grip for kids.
- Cyclocross bikes:
These bikes have knobby tires with drop-down handlebars. These are normally used in trails where obstacles are places and sometimes you have to lift the bicycle to get through. These are very dynamic bikes with light frames and grip.
The Science Behind ‘Bicycle Wheels and Tires’
Computational fluid dynamic modeling or CFD is used for optimizing the speed of bicycle w.r.t. to tires and also the gears are assessed in low-speed wind tunnels. For achieving speed in cycling you must have good aerodynamics, this way with same effort, a bicycle optimized for aerodynamics gives better speed.
Certain factors for achieving better speed in cycling needs to be explored wisely, such as;
The resistance between road and tire should be minimum called ‘rolling resistance’.
- Wheel Depth:
This creates drag factor and lowers the drag factor, faster you roll. The drag factor allows air to remain stick to the sides of the wheel for a longer duration.
- Wheel sizes (front and back):
Size of wheel impact speed a lot. The disc makes steering hard of its in front-wheel, therefore, cyclists keep deep rims at front and discs at back in outdoor races. The handling of the bike is very crucial w.r.t to front wheel size.
- Width of wheel:
With lower rolling resistance wider tires give better speed.
Wheel Rim Shape, dimples and saw-teeth also play a vital role in determining the speed and air friction of bicycles.
The next Article will cover ‘Cycling tours in Pakistan’ and ‘Places in Pakistan Recommended for Cycling’.