Bicycles, ever since their invention around the turn of the century, have become one of the world’s favorite vehicles for all sorts of uses. In the developing and developed world alike, many millions of people ride bicycles every week or even every day, and these lightweight vehicles are inexpensive and can provide cardio. Bicycles are among the few vehicles that don’t have an engine, being powered instead by the user’s legs pumping the pedals. For some, bicycles are a standard mode of transport in everyday life, and for other riders, bicycles are simply meant for leisure and exercise programs, and of course, competitive bike racing exists too. Some people have made a name for themselves for their bike racing or off-road bike stunts. Accessories such as bicycle saddles, carbon saddle rails, toe clips, baskets, and more can be added or upgraded on a bicycle as well. What is there to know about the industry of bicycles around the world today?
The Bike Industry and Ridership
Bicycles are among the most commonly produced vehicles in the entire world, partly owing to the low material and dollar cost of making them. There are nearly one billion bicycles in the entire world today, one for every seventh human being, and they outnumber automobiles two to one. In the United States, despite the presence of motorized vehicles, bicycles sell well and represent a major industry. Nearly $1.2 billion worth was spent on buying used bicycles in the year 2015 alone, and in that year, the American bicycle industry saw nearly $6.2 billion in sales. Accessories can also be found at bike shops or local retailers, such as bicycle saddles, or seats, and helmets, gloves, new tires, and much more.
How are bicycles used? It could be said that there are three main reasons bicycles are ridden: work, leisure, and sport. In some parts of the world, such as much of Africa and southern Asia, bicycles are the staple vehicle rather than automobiles, due to their low cost and lack of need for fuel. Many people today use bicycles as a way to commute nearly anywhere, and many people are also using bicycles for transporting goods. It may be a common sight in some parts of the world to see merchants carrying their wares, such as produce or even small livestock such as chickens, to market in a bicycle’s basket. Or, these commuters may have larger loads balanced on the back of the bicycle. “Work” may also describe when employees in more developed parts of the world commute to work on a bicycle. Why? This can cut down on pollution, which assists the “go green” initiative, and takes cars off the road. Commuting to work is also a fine opportunity for exercise and cardio.
Exercise is indeed another major reason to invest in a bicycle and a fine bike seat during riding. Many Americans are riding bicycles for leisure, for the fun of riding and also for the excellent cardio that bicycles provide. Many health benefits come with good exercise every day, and bicycles, along with jogging and swimming, are a popular way to get a person moving and work out their muscles. Many parks across the United States are friendly for bike riders, having many paved paths and trails to visit.
Competitive bike racing is the last major category, and this often happens during formal organized events. The Tour de France is a popular example, but there are many others, and bike races can also be done for charity purposes. The bicycles used in these races are specialized in their design for maximum speed on pavement. For example, the wheels are large but narrow, making for maximum speed on paved surfaces only.
Different bike parts should be upgraded or kept in good shape, and this includes bicycle saddles, or the seats. Bicycle saddles for leisure models are wider and soft, which easily accommodate the sitting bones during riding. By contrast, competitive bicycle saddles are narrow and harder, and may have high quality leather on them. Racers cannot afford to have a wide saddle interfering with their leg movements, and racers rarely put their full weight on the saddle anyway. Instead, they tend to lean forward during racing.