Informative Data About The Wheels and the Bicycle

There was an advertisement on the TV. The backdrop was sometime around 4th Millennium BC. A donkey was the master. It was sitting like a king under a tree in a deep forest in the jungles of Mesopotamia. He was relishing mints. Its HomoErectus servant was standing nearby. The donkey threw a mint towards him. No sooner the man took the mint in his mouth, his brain started working. The mint could not enliven the donkey since it had a dull brain. Very soon the man deserted the donkey. He learnt coconut breaking. He learnt making tools from stones. He made spear. He killed animals for food. He learnt fire making. He made his first invention. He chiseled out a wheel from a piece of rock. He started playing with it. One day he came across his old master. The next scene was of the man steering the donkey to draw a cart rolling on stone wheels.

We are riding high on the wheel of progress with propellers, jet engines and turbines around. However, bicycle wheels still remain the most delicately balanced mode of managing a distance. The balancing act is at its best, but never acclaimed to be such.

The common “Safety Bicycle” relieved the high wheelers sometime in the 1880s. These high wheelers were very unsafe and accident prone.

The wheel of the safety bicycle is the most crucial part of the entire assembly. A good pair of wheels allows the rider to move around with speed and efficiency on smooth or rough terrain negotiating bends at ease.

The wheel consists of a hub at the center, a rim on the periphery, number of spokes and a tire sometimes with an inflatable tube inside.

A bicycle wheel has to bear the weight of the cyclist, withstand forces of paddling, acceleration, braking. It has to be equally good on undulated as well as slippery roads. The needed support and strength is provided by the spokes. Tangential spokes do this nicely by transmitting the torque from the hub to the rim of the wheel. The wheel reciprocates by conveying its twist and turn to the rim thus urging to move forward. Radial spokes are beneficial only when the stiffness of the wheel is the concern. The Spokes are made from steel, aluminum, carbon composite or ceramics.

Pneumatic tires have a very important role. A firm thin tire on a smooth surface flattens less. This translates into less friction, more speed, and less wear. The wide and tough tires used on mountain bikes floats on a rough hard surface terrain cutting less deep into the dirt. An oval shape smoothly treaded tire goes well with a smooth and wet surface as it allows effective water evacuation and prevents the tires from hydroplaning. On the other hand, a stiffer rubber compound is used in tires of mountain bikes to get improved physical link and grip with the road.