Outline of bicycles

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to bicycles:

This article is an outline about bicycles themselves. For an outline about cycling, the associated activity, see outline of cycling.

Bicycle pedal-driven, human-powered, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist or a bicyclist, and the activity is called cycling. Also known as a bike, push bike or cycle.

What type of thing is a bicycle?

Bicycles can be described as all of the following:

Types of bicycles

History of bicycles

History of the bicycle

Key developments


Early developers

Other developers

Mountain bike developers

Other notable cyclists

Racing authors

Other authors


Technical aspects

The bicycle has undergone continual adaptation and improvement since its inception. These innovations have continued with the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design, allowing for a proliferation of specialized bicycle types.


Bicycles have been and are employed for many uses:

Types of bicycles

List of bicycle types Bicycles can be categorized in different ways: e.g. by function, by number of riders, by general construction, by gearing or by means of propulsion. The more common types include utility bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles, touring bicycles, hybrid bicycles, cruiser bicycles, and BMX Bikes. Less common are tandems, lowriders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models and recumbents (one of which was used to set the IHPVA Hour record).

Unicycles, tricycles and quadracycles are not strictly bicycles, as they have respectively one, three and four wheels, but are often referred to informally as "bikes".


Bicycle and motorcycle dynamics


Bicycle performance


Bicycle and motorcycle geometry

Construction and parts

In its early years, bicycle construction drew on pre-existing technologies. More recently, bicycle technology has in turn contributed ideas in both old and new areas.

For details on specific bicycle parts, see list of bicycle parts and category:bicycle parts.


Bicycle frame - The great majority of today's bicycles have a frame with upright seating which looks much like the first chain-driven bike.

By design:

By frame material:

Brands and makers of unusual frames:


Drivetrain and gearing

Power collection
Power transmission
Power modification
Power application

Steering and seating


Wheels and tires


Some bicycles are built for specific tracks:

Or special tracks are built specifically for bicycles:

(Also see Cycling infrastructure)

Bicycle accessories

Bicycle accessories

Bicycle tools

Bicycle tools


A number of formal and industry standards exist for bicycle components to help make spare parts exchangeable and to maintain a minimum product safety.

The International Organization for Standardization, ISO, has a special technical committee for cycles, TC149, that has the following scope: "Standardization in the field of cycles, their components and accessories with particular reference to terminology, testing methods and requirements for performance and safety, and interchangeability."

CEN, European Committee for Standardisation, also has a specific Technical Committee, TC333, that defines European standards for cycles. Their mandate states that EN cycle standards shall harmonize with ISO standards. Some CEN cycle standards were developed before ISO published their standards, leading to strong European influences in this area. European cycle standards tend to describe minimum safety requirements, while ISO standards have historically harmonized parts geometry. The TC149 ISO bicycle committee, including the TC149/SC1 ("Cycles and major sub-assemblies") subcommittee, has published the following standards:

  • ISO 4210 CyclesSafety requirements for bicycles
  • ISO 6692 CyclesMarking of cycle components
  • ISO 6695 CyclesPedal axle and crank assembly with square end fittingAssembly dimensions
  • ISO 6696 CyclesScrew threads used in bottom bracket assemblies
  • ISO 6697 CyclesHubs and freewheelsAssembly dimensions
  • ISO 6698 CyclesScrew threads used to assemble freewheels on bicycle hubs
  • ISO 6699 CyclesStem and handlebar bendAssembly dimensions
  • ISO 6701 CyclesExternal dimensions of spoke nipples
  • ISO 6742 CyclesLighting and retro-reflective devicesPhotometric and physical requirements
  • ISO 8090 CyclesTerminology (same as BS 6102-4)
  • ISO 8098 CyclesSafety requirements for bicycles for young children
  • ISO 8488 CyclesScrew threads used to assemble head fittings on bicycle forks
  • ISO 8562 CyclesStem wedge angle
  • ISO 10230 CyclesSplined hub and sprocketMating dimensions
  • ISO 11243 CyclesLuggage carriers for bicyclesConcepts, classification and testing

Other ISO Technical Committees have published various cycle relevant standards, for example:

  • ISO 5775 Bicycle tire and rim designations
  • ISO 9633 Cycle chainsCharacteristics and test methods

Published cycle standards from CEN TC333 include:

  • EN 14764 City and trekking bicycles – Safety requirements and test methods
  • EN 14765 Bicycles for young children – Safety requirements and test methods
  • EN 14766 Mountain-bicycles – Safety requirements and test methods
  • EN 14781 Racing bicycles – Safety requirements and test methods
  • EN 14872 Bicycles – Accessories for bicycles – Luggage carriers
  • EN 15496 Cycles – Requirements and test methods for cycle locks

Yet to be approved cycle standards from CEN TC333:

  • EN 15194 CyclesElectrically power assisted cycles (EPAC bicycle)
  • EN 15532 CyclesTerminology
  • 00333011 Cycles – Bicycles trailers – safety requirements and test methods

Social and historical aspects

The bicycle has had a considerable effect on human society, in both the cultural and industrial realms.

Economic implications

In daily life

In poverty reduction

Bicycle poverty reduction

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of the United Nations considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, and a person controlling a bicycle (whether actually riding or not) is considered an operator.

See also


Related vehicle types



  1. Oxford English Dictionary (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. cycling: The action or activity of riding a bicycle etc.

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