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Eleven percent. Is that a lot? Or just a little? Eleven percent of 200 years is 22 years.
The invention of the bicycle by Karl Drais is commemorated in many parts of the world these days. Drais is credited with having invented the original principle of the bicycle, namely two wheels arranged behind one another, a two-wheeler principle with a human being as the center of propulsion: the Draisine, a behemoth of wood and steel weighing 25 kg, which had to be moved by the force of a human’s legs. On June 12, 1817, Drais took his vehicle out for a ride on a 7-kilometer distance between Mannheim and Schwetzingen/Germany for the first time, traveling at a remarkable average speed of 15 km/h. The Draisine, by the way, was equipped with 27” running wheels even back then. This new velocity would soon clash with the walking habits of pedestrians. Consequently, Draisines were banned in a number of cities, bringing the development of the two-wheeler to a halt. 50 more years would pass before Pierre Michaux unveiled the Velocipede, a bicycle with a metal frame and a crank-driven front wheel, at the 1867 World Exhibition in Paris. It paved the way for the High Wheeler (aka Penny Farthing) that was only to mark an intermediate stop on the road toward today’s bicycle, though. As early as in 1879 Johann Friedrich Trefz, a gymnastics teacher from Stuttgart/Germany, and the Briton Harry John Lawson independently of each other experimented with chain-driven rear wheels. The front wheel was still larger than the rear wheel, but in Lawson’s “Safety” model, the perfect rear-wheel drive had finally been found, although it was initially unable to displace Michaux’s wide-spread High Wheelers. In 1885, John Kemp Starley, a nephew of the inventor of tangentially clamped steel spokes, presented the first so-called Safety Bicycle branded the Rover, a cycle with rear-wheel chain drive and indirect steering. The launch of the Rover III with inflatable tires in 1888 practically marked the birth of the bicycle as we know it today. Ultimately, in 1890, by creating a direct connection between the seat and the bottom bracket, Thomas Huber developed the diamond frame of the kind still being prescribed today by the UCI. Again, more than 50 years had to pass before in 1946 the “Corsa” by Campagnolo provided the first gearshift suitable for the mass market. Up until that time, the rear wheel was equipped with two different sprockets, one each on the left and right of the hub and, when necessary, the rear wheel had to be unclamped, turned around and re-clamped again. Initially having used wing nuts, Tullio Campagnolo later invented the quick release skewer. The parallelogram derailleur we’re familiar with today was developed in the 1950s.
The evolution of the bicycle continues. Carbon as a material has largely taken the lead, gearshifts are electronic and wireless, and electric motors have long become established as well. Today, every application is covered by a special product segment, Storck bicycles having set milestones in some of them (more on this can be found at storckworld/leidenschaft.com). Storck Bicycle has existed since 1995 and been part of this development for 22 years, accounting for more than 10 percent of the bicycle’s 200-year history. 22 years in which we’ve been able to claim with pride that we’ve added quite a bit to the chapter of bicycles. I feel that this is a lot and look forward to the next exciting years.
Yours, Markus Storck