A teenager riding a bicycle in the early Republic of China
China is the kingdom of bicycles. Before the rise of the automobile boom, the Chinese had a soft spot for bicycles among all modes of transportation. Therefore, most people may be interested in the history described in this article: bicycles are an imported object introduced a century and a half ago. They were popular in major cities in China a hundred years ago. At that time, bicycle models were quite advanced until the 1990s. New models such as mountain bikes were used by the Chinese for almost a century before they became popular. A hundred years ago, bicycles were expensive, and buyers enjoyed it because they could pay in installments.
The first introduction of bicycles The time when the first bicycle was introduced is untestable. This is irrelevant, because the earliest bicycles were very inconvenient to ride and could not really become people's means of transportation. A large amount of historical data records that bicycles have become a well-known means of transportation in many large cities in China in the early 20th century. The invention of the bicycle has a history of more than two hundred years. In 1790, the French Earl Sivrac invented the bicycle for the first time. This is the simplest bicycle with two wooden wheels arranged in a straight line. There is no chain. People ride on the bicycle and drive on the ground with two feet. Although it is very different from today's bicycles, it is less laborious than walking. In 1839 and 1853, the Englishman Michael and the German Fischer invented bicycle pedals respectively. The pedal is made of metal and is mounted on the front wheel. The rider can drive the car by pedaling, which greatly increases the running speed and saves much energy. But the body at this time is of wooden structure. In 1869, the British Schercha invented the chain and bottom bracket. In 1871, hollow steel pipes began to replace wood to form the frame. In 1880, ball bearings were applied to bicycles. On the basis of this series of inventions, in 1885, the Englishman Staley created a complete set of bicycle chain transmissions, which moved the pedal movement chain from the front wheel to the rear wheel, and designed the seat and pedals. , The handlebars, and the rotating shafts of the front and rear wheels form a triangular structure, which makes the movement of the bicycle conform to the principles of structural mechanics. This revolutionizes the bicycle. It not only greatly increases the running speed, but also saves energy. The bicycle has entered the production stage. In 1889, Scotsman Jeroba invented pneumatic hollow tires. The bicycle developed to this stage is no longer different from today's bicycles. In the various stages of bicycle invention and improvement, these different types of bicycles have been introduced to China. No later than 1868, bicycles appeared on the streets of Shanghai. According to a report by the "Shanghai Xinbao" on November 17 of that year, there were not many bicycles in Shanghai at that time. There were only a few bicycles. There were two forms: one was a person riding a car and walking with two feet on the ground; Pedal and walk, "turning like flying." It can be seen that the bicycles in Shanghai at that time included the original bicycles that walked on the toes and the bicycles that were equipped with pedals in 1839 or 1853. The bicycles in Shanghai were brought in by foreigners living in China. The enlightened Shanghainese are very interested in new foreign artifacts, so bicycles have been continuously introduced since the 1860s and become a new wonder on the streets of Shanghai. But at that time, bicycles were still in the trial production stage and needed continuous improvement. Most of the introduced bicycles fended for themselves, and it was difficult for them to become as popular as other imported vehicles, such as horse-drawn carriages and rickshaws. In 1876, the literati Ge Yuanxu described the bicycles he saw on the streets of Shanghai in "Miscellaneous Traveling to Shanghai" (translation): "The car has two front and rear wheels, the middle is the seat, and the front wheel has a pedal on each side. There is a chain, and a crossbar above the front wheel is used as a handrail. When a person rides a bicycle, two pedals are used to rotate like flying. Hold the crossbar with both hands to prop up the arms, and the speed is as fast as a carriage. However, the rider needs to practice two times It takes three months to become proficient. It’s been rare recently.” The bicycle’s “pedals” mentioned in this record are set on the “front wheels”, and the handles of the bicycles are “handrail bars”, apparently from 1839 or 1853 in Europe. The product of the second phase of the bicycle. In 1883, Huang Shiquan wrote in Songnan Dream Movie Record (translation): "In the past, there were bicycles in Shanghai. Although they walked like flying, the grass was soft and the sand was still in danger of overturning. Once encountered bricks and rubble, they could not walk. The inconvenience is almost gone.” These records reflect that although bicycles were introduced to China very early, they were not popular for a long time. There were two main reasons. First of all, the performance of the bicycle itself is not good, the cyclist cannot master the riding skills without a long time of practice, and it is easy to fall during riding. Secondly, the vehicles used as means of transportation are not compatible with the roads. China’s roads are bumpy, and bicycle wheels are much smaller than horse-drawn carriages, making it difficult to adapt. Before wide and flat roads became popular, bicycles were difficult to adapt to in China (even in a metropolis like Shanghai). popular. By the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, with the opening of trade ports, the improvement of road conditions and the improvement of bicycles themselves, bicycles became popular in China. The city with the highest concentration of bicycles is Shanghai, with hundreds of bicycles at the time. According to the report on January 28, 1898, “Shenzhen” reported: “Taixi (that is, Europe) has a bicycle system, and this trend prevails in Shanghai. Ruofei.” What I mentioned here is that bicycles have become popular in Shanghai recently, not only for Westerners in Shanghai, but also Chinese people have begun to ride bicycles. The "Report" on April 1 of the same year also said: "Every day in the Huangpu Beach area, one and the other, like a woven, handy, quick and easy." This shows that in 1898, bicycles on the Bund roads were already woven. And after the bicycle has been improved, the cyclist can already control it freely. In addition to Shanghai, bicycles appeared in other cities at the end of the 19th century. In 1897, when a French doctor in Beijing went to Xuanwu Hospital, he "ridden on a bicycle and walked around". In September of the same year, a Westerner in Yantai rode a bicycle through the city, attracting "the audience's praise". In addition to the capital city and the trade ports, some inland cities with closed cultures have also introduced bicycles. A report on Jiangxi in 1898 said: "Recently, bicycles are popular in Shanghai, and nothing has been seen in Jiang Province. Yesterday a teenager rode a double-drum bicycle from Jinxianmen to the front of Gongyuan, swiftly flying. Scholars have never seen it. All surprises are strange. The only way is convex and concave, and you cannot drive arbitrarily." Bicycle is popular because of its lightness and convenience, but road conditions restrict its development. In 1899, because of the increasing number of cyclists and the narrow roads in Suzhou's government, traffic accidents were often caused, and ordinary Chinese people were prohibited from riding bicycles in the city. There are only three types of people who are allowed to ride bicycles: "Westerners, priests, and people", and the rest are "no rides." Due to various restrictions, by the spring of 1904, there were only 7 bicycles in Chengdu, of which 3 were owned by foreigners, 1 was for credit by the post office, and the users of the remaining 3 were ordinary Chinese.
Actual production picture of workshop: