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The History of the Bicycle

Bicycles are a beloved childhood toy, an environmentally friendly way to get around, and a great way to exercise. In many places, they are considered a true necessity. But where did the humble bicycle come from? The bicycle first gained mass popularity in the 1890s, when the “safety” bicycle that we are familiar with today replaced its perilous, giant-wheeled predecessor. While automobiles gave bicycles strong competition, manufacturers quickly pivoted and began making children’s bicycles after the end of World War I. Schwinn’s balloon-tired Excelsior model debuted in 1933 and remained one of the most popular models for over 30 years. After World War II ended, bicycles exploded in popularity and allowed kids to roam throughout the suburbs that were cropping up all across America. Bike designs at the time were often inspired by motorcycles and rocket ships. In the 1960s and 1970s, Schwinn’s Sting Ray bicycle was extremely popular; it featured a banana seat and an elongated strut. In the 1980s, racing bikes became a popular mode of exercise for adult men and women. Today, bicycles come in many styles, including retro or comfort bikes, trick bikes, mountain bikes, racing bikes, and – of course – bikes for kids.

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