The Cycle Revolution

As part of my research, I took the time to look around the other exhibit at the Design Museum, The Cycle Revolution. It linked in well with my current project where we are looking at innovation in design and how we can design better, but also for a purpose such as sustainability. In this case, it wasn’t necessarily the issue of sustainability that was the focus, more speed.

Over the years from the beginning of the cycle revolution, designers have always been looking at ways to make bikes and bike equipment more efficient and more fit for purpose. This was evident also in the clothing of cyclists, where cyclists would often where wool clothing which was often itchy and became very heave when it got wet. The first innovation from this was made by a Italian tailor who introduced silk jerseys which were much lighter and cooler, and as an added benefit, took ink much better. This became important especially with the growing popularity of the professional sport, corporations used cyclists and moving bilboards to promoting there brands.



One part of the exhibit focused on track cycling, and told the story of the hour record that was broken by Chris Hoy. in 19884, a cyclist called Francesco Moser became the first cyclist to break Eddy Merckx’s long-standing hour record. He did this by using a new style of bicycle, that was among the first to prize aerodynamic principles as highly as lightweight components. In the 1980’s wind tunnel testing proved that solid disc wheels provided a significant improvement in aerodynamic performance. Disc wheels slice through the air much more efficiently, reducing the drag caused by traditional spoked wheels by 50%. The raised seat position accommodated a rear wheel with a larger diameter than the front. The design proved extremely influential, and went on to revolutionize the sport.

Moving onto safety, helmets became more and more important as the sport got faster and more dangerous to health. However the material used had to be hard and durable, but lightweight. After the introduction of wind tunnels, Specialized McLaren were able to understand the conditions the helmet would be under, and design a shape that would not only be comfortable to wear, but aerodynamic as engineers noticed when cyclists had their head down, their helmet would rise into the air, meaning a negative influence on aerodynamics.




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