Brakings: The History Of Bicycle Brakes

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The History of Bicycle Brakes
The first successful bicycle with pedals was constructed in 1869 and was named ‘The Boneshaker’ after its rigid components. It consisted of a stiff iron frame and wooden wheels, which were surrounded by iron tyres. Though it was not the most comfortable way to get around, and was almost useless on anything but a smooth flat surface, this innovation was a breakthrough in transportation development. Since The Boneshaker, the structure of bicycles has come a long way in comfort, but also in safety as the development of braking technology was sparked.
The initial method of slowing bicycles down was to resist the pedals, as originally they did not have the option to free wheel. The pedals were connected directly to the front drive wheel, which led to problems if the bicycle was travelling too fast. A common outcome of hard braking would result in the entire bicycle flipping over the front wheel.
The bicycle was fitted with a braking system known as the ‘Spoon Brake’ shortly after innovation. This system was most commonly operated by a lever or cord connected to the handlebars, which stretched down to the front or rear wheel. When the lever was engaged, a leather pad, or metal shoe would press onto the top of the wheel, and successfully slow the bicycle. This braking mechanism dramatically increased the wear of the wheel and wasn’t very powerful when compared to the technology we have in the present.

The band brake was another system that appeared on bicycles as early as 1884. This system incorporated a band, strap or cable which loops around a drum attached to the hub of the wheel. When the band is tightened, the friction between the band and the drum is increased, and the wheel is slowed. This meth...

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...r of the tyre when compared to the spoon brake.
Disc brakes are the most recent instalment in bicycle braking. A metal disc is attached directly to the hub of the wheel, which rotates accordingly. Callipers which are connected to the fork or frame of the bicycle clamp onto the disc, which slows the rotation of the wheel. Disc brakes can be either mechanically, hydraulically triggered or a combination of both. Mechanically triggered brakes work similar to the previous cable actuated brakes spoken about in this report. A lever arm attached to the handlebars is applied a force which stretches a Bowden cable and engages the braking callipers. Hydraulically triggered disc brakes consist of a fluid within the braking system opposed to a cable. When the lever arm is engaged, the fluid is pressurised, and applies a force to pistons attached to the braking callipers.
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