Classification of bikes (2)

The recent document on Scribd which classifies bikes in terms of the number of wheels( see here) is not the first attempt to classify the various sub-types of these vehicles. For example, Archibald Sharp included a chapter on the topic in his book, “Bicycles and Tricycles” (ref. 953), which was published in 1895. The first level of his classification was based on the number of wheels:

 classes of  bikes 1b

…. Subsequent levels of Sharp’s classification included

  • Front, rear steering
  • Geared or ungeared
  • Geared (chain, toothed wheel or clutch)

One fact which the extract from Sharp’s classification highlights is that three-wheeled and multi-wheeled bikes existed more than a hundred years ago. For example, there have been versions of quadricycles (4-wheeled bikes) since at least 1853, more than 150 years ago, see the following table:

bikes 02


Since a range of bike sizes and types have existed for over a hundred years, it would seem reasonable to expect modern highway design standards  to quote dimensions and to design facilities for them.


983  Sharp, Archibald, “Bicycles and Tricycles – a classic treatise on their design and construction”, 1896, reprinted 2003 by Dover Publications Inc. New York, USA


About roadnotes

Robert Bartlett is an international consultant with over 30 years of professional experience as a highway and traffic engineer with leading companies and organisations in several countries, including Germany, China (Hong Kong), Qatar and the UK. Specialised in urban studies, transport and the use of GIS, research has included new ideas on subjects such as the study of social justice using GIS, the dimensions of vehicles, and comparative geometrics (highways and transport).
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