A World on Two Wheels
Bicycles are one of the most ubiquitous forms of transportation in the world. Most children remember their first bike; with it came the chance to explore their world with more freedom than ever before. As we grow, however, bicycling becomes more than just a childhood rite of passage. Wind in our hair and feet on the pedals, we have several good reasons to climb on and take a trip. Much of the world uses bicycles as a primary form of daily transportation. What would take several hours of travel on foot becomes faster and more efficient on two wheels. Some cyclists take trips across entire states or cross-country solely on a bicycle. Reaching speeds of 15-19 miles an hour(24-30 km an hour) is achievable by even beginning cyclists, while more experienced riders can reach speeds equivalent to automobile travel. "Century riders" travel 100 miles or more within a typical day. Not to be constrained by simple transportation, bicycles (stationary and otherwise) have helped people become healthier by losing excess weight and improving cardiovascular fitness. The exercise benefits of cycling are well known. Using the largest muscles in the body, bicycling allows riders to reach aerobic heart rates that drive up metabolism, and give a good workout. With the relative newcomer in the bicycle world, mountain bikes, this form of transportation is taking us on rugged terrain once thought impassable by anything other than hiking boots or pack animals. Extreme sport enthusiasts have adapted the bicycle to perform gravity defying stunts, such as flips and mid air acrobatics, in a style known as BMX (Bicycle Motorcross). In short, bikes remain a popular way to get people between points A and B, whether those destinations are found on a map, from one state of health to another, or to explore the unknown.
Bicycles have become an important part of the landscape. Most people understand the saying, "as easy as riding a bike." Or we understand that some dormant skill is easy to pick back up if it's "just like riding a bike." Likewise, many immediately think of bicycles when we make an allusion to "coasting", "picking up speed", or "going downhill".
This wikibook will examine bicycles from various perspectives. The book aims to appeal to the complete beginner, the potential cyclist, and budding or seasoned bicycle mechanics. We will look at choosing the "right bike" for what you want. We will also examine the kind of gear you might want for your bike. Then we will see how to maintain and repair your investment. Unlike automobiles which require knowledge of the internal combustion engine, electrical systems, and a series of other intricate assemblies, bicycles are relatively easy to diagnose and (oftentimes) fix. Many road riders include a small mechanic's kit that fixes many roadside mishaps. Likewise upgrading a bike is relatively pain free, with the exception of some more exotic parts. Many bikes can be upgraded by changing out a few key components such as brakes or shifters. Furthermore, many bicycles can be modified by the owner to better fit their cycling needs.