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The Greatest Invention

Think on the inventions that have transformed the way we live our lives. One of the first that come to mind for me is technology. No doubt the effects of the personal computer and ubiquity of the Internet have changed our lives profoundly and forever.
The Walking Machine 1817

But think of an invention that hasn’t changed much since its original form, has steadfastly endured the test of time and is globally relevant. I would argue that using that as criteria for evaluation, the bicycle is the greatest invention of all time. Sure I’m biased, but indulge me for a second.

Freedom: bikes went a long way to emancipating women in the 19th century, especially in the US and Britain. As bicycles became safer and cheaper, more women had access to the personal freedom they embodied.
Accessibility: bicycles were introduced in the 19th century and now number over one billion worldwide. Young, old, rich, poor, fit or not, there is a place for a bike in most households.
Economic Impact: experiments done in Africa (Uganda and Tanzania) and Sri Lanka on hundreds of households have shown that a bicycle can increase the income of a poor family by as much as 35 per cent!
Spinoff: did you know that several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the car were originally invented for the bicycle - including ball bearingspneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets, and spoke-tensioned wheels?
Mindful Living: growing emphasis and concern with greenhouse gas emissions has made people ever more aware of their environmental footprint. This is in part cause for the growing popularity of bikes.
Simplicity: whether you invest in a high-end full carbon fibre road racer, or an old-school ten-speed hand-me-down, the basic mechanics of a bicycle haven’t changed. Useful from the start, the design modifications that followed have eased the ride and increased relevancy to different types of experiences, but the fundamentals have never wavered.
Usefulness: whether for transportation, delivery, touring, racing, performance, or couriering, there are a multitude of applications for a bike in this life.

The global popularity of bikes is only predicted to grow. With more people choosing it as a leisure activity, increasing environmental concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, rising fuel/energy prices, and greater emphasis on health and living mindfully, it seems that the enduring success of this great invention is sealed.

So don’t delay, get out on your bike today!


  1. I don't agree with you on this - I think the printing press is by far a more important and profound invention - but you have made a great case for the bike! No doubt in my mind the bike will continue to have a major impact on human's lives.


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