1673: Timeline of Bicycle Design

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Timeline of Bicycle Design
I'll be honest--the 1950s were a rough time for cycling.
Title text: I'll be honest--the 1950s were a rough time for cycling.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Still only scratching the surface of possible explanation. Also title text not mentioned.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Randall created a 200 year history for bicycles with 13 bike designs ranging from 1810 until today 2016.

But the only model that both looks like a real model and fits the year is the 1875 model, which seem to be a depiction of a Penny-farthing, which was popular in the 1870's up until the 1880's when the Safety bicycle took over. (It may be drawn without handlebars, but these were really small on that model, and might be too small for the drawing). The 1860 model looks like the American Star Bicycle, but that was first invented in the 1880s.

Some of the other examples of "bikes" could, however, look like those in the image at the top of the Velocipede Wikipedia page.

Interestingly enough only some of the bikes have drivers like Ponytail pole vaulting bike, and Cueball appears four times with Megan three times. Only in the 1900 design is Cueball drawn in a clearly different scale to indicate how huge that bike is, making it even bigger than the 1880 which continued the trend from 1860. This still leaves five designs without humans to compare the scale with.

Only two of the bikes have pedals (1875 and 2016) and only one has a sprocket with a chain (1980). Just above half have saddle (7), if the 1980 Megan holder is not counted as a saddle.

The 1925 model is reminiscent of a fractal; Benoit Mandelbrot was born just before 1925, in October 1924.

This comic (especially the 2016 bicycle) is possibly also a reference to The Science of Cycology, a cognitive psychology project run by Rebecca Lawson at the University of Liverpool that asked study participants to draw a bicycle from memory. The error rate was high, supporting a hypothesis that humans over-estimate their ability to explain how things work. Gianluca Gimini made a similar project, Velocipedia. Gimini asked people to draw free hand sketches of bicycles and rendered the results as real bikes.

Also, the designs given for the years from 1825 to 1925 distinctly resemble designs that tend to evolve in the various challenge environments in the genetic evolution game BoxCar2D.

The title text refers to the scene labeled "1955" which depicts Cueball being chased by 3 bicycle wheels. Whatever caused the wheels to become sentient and rebel against their human masters is left to the reader's imagination.

Transcript

[13 drawings 8 in the top and 5 in the bottom row of different and weird "bicycle" designs. Above them there is a heading, and below each bike a year is given. On the very last cycle there is a drinking bottle with a label.]
Timeline of Bicycle Design
[Ponytail hanging on to a bending rod that goes down to a single normal sized bike wheel. It looks like a unicycle with no seat. The rod is bending quite a lot so she looks like she is about to use the contraption as a pole vault]
1810
[Cueball is running after a device holding on to a rod bend in several places before reaching the ground at a very small wheel that then is connected with a shorter rod to a normal sized bike wheel.]
1825
[Two normal sized bike wheels connected with a single rod between them.]
1840
[Megan sits on a large saddle on top of a double sized bike wheel, she has some kind of handle bars to hold on to (or it could just be the saddle) and then a small rod goes down to a half size front wheel.]
1860
[A regular drawing of a Penny-farthing with very small back wheel (half the size of the front wheel on the 1860 bike) and very large front wheel (larger than the 1860 bike) and pedals in the middle of the front wheel. The handle bars on such a bike is so small that it is likely they cannot be seen in this drawing.]
1875
[A huge wheel twice the size of the one on the Penny-farthing, and then a small wheel (like the small one on the Penny-farthing) hangs in a rod from the center of the giant wheel. The small wheel has a saddle attached, but it is not straight up.]
1880
[This is the largest bike. Not the largest drawings, but where the other have the characters in roughly the same size, this one has a small drawing of Cueball standing on top of the wheel holding on to some kind of handle bar. The wheel is about three time his height.]
1900
[Cueball sits in the "saddle" of a bike design the is similar to the Penny-farthing, but the saddle is more a rod, and the back wheel is on a rod going straight down from where the saddle ends. Also there are no pedals, and Cueball seems to hang on to the saddle reaching forward rather than having any control of the bike.]
1915
[A symmetrical saddle sits on top of single bike wheel, as with a unicycle but no pedals, but then there are (at least) six progressively smaller wheels in-line to the first, three to front and three to the rear, each new wheel approximately half the size of the one before. A possible fourth wheel, presumed to complete the set of medial stabilisers, can no longer be discerned from the rod that goes through the center of the larger wheels.]
1925
[Megan stands on top of a saddle with a oar that looks like the single-oar sculling used for gondolas in Venice. She holds this to the ground behind her, while trying to move her bike forward. The bike consists of four small wheels, one straight under her, one behind, one equally in front of her and the last even further in front. They are all connected to the saddle with individual rods.]
1940
[Three normal sized bike wheel are rolling down a hill after Cueball who runs away from them with his arms up.]
1955
[Megan sits on a bike contraption that seems to have a holder around her mid section rather than her sitting on a saddle. This holder goes to the back wheel below her, and there is actually a sprocket with a chain, although no clear pedals beneath her feet. She holds on to a very long handle bar, which connects with two long rods coming from the sprocket at the front end of the bike far ahead of Megan, below which is a wheel, to where the chain is actually going. Both wheels seems to be normal size.]
1980
[Another weird contraption of a bike with pedals on both normal sized wheels which have wheel guards on the side pointing down towards the front. The saddle hangs in a swing that connect to a rod above it which goes to the front of the bike and splits in two rods that connects to the center frame of the bike. In front of these there is a contraption that reminds of a handle bar, which sits just above the front wheel. The two wheels are connected with a long rod between the center of the wheels and in the middle of this is the center part of the frame going up toward the handle. On the middle of this is a bottle with a label. Towards the back wheel there are two rods sticking out, with no clear meaning.]
2016
Bottle: Milk


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Discussion

I have deleted the entire paragraph with the Alternatively, explanation that this could be an analogue to the process of meiosis and pregnancy... It seems extremely far fetched to me... Kynde (talk) 13:01, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Seconded. This is a bizarre comic, and there will be a bizarre explanation, but that is clearly not it. 141.101.70.181 13:04, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

That 1860 bike looks like the American Star Bicycle, but the year doesn't match. 141.101.79.49 13:10, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

(Moved here from explanation:)
The randomness of the designs reminds me of the strange designs produced by the genetic evolution AI in the game BoxCar2D.141.101.80.78 15:05, 27 April 2016‎

This comic strongly remind me of http://boxcar2d.com/ Dorus (talk) 14:24, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

I third the above comments. It could also help explain the title text, as the 1955 panel shows a broken and failed cycle, which can happen when a detrimental mutation (like weak wheel linkages) is selected by the AI to be passed on. 173.245.54.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Would have seconded it, only looks like I'm fourthing it, instead. Also I adjusted 1925's transcript description as the numbers were wrong. (I also suspect it's related to the stabilisation applied to the Pentacycle, only without visible in/out-of-page stability. (Because the third dimension doesn't exist? Well apart from 1900 that looks to be a bicycle version of the Rudge, with a solid insert to the spoked wheel ('poor man's disc-wheel' kit?) obscuring all but the spurious over-wheel drive-chain and the rider's head.) 141.101.98.137 15:09, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Can you include the 'Alternatively,' explanation down here so I (and presumably others) don't have to wade through the page's history? We could list all sorts of far-fetched explanations, it has definitely happened on other comics. 108.162.242.135 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I have a feeling that this is related to the idea that nobody can draw a bicycle. For example, this artist created 3D renderings of bicycles drawn by strangers. Rael (talk) 14:51, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm not certain there's a relation, unless it's Randall pointing out that it's rather difficult for him to draw a bicycle while maintaining a simple stick-figure theme? Regarding that guy's experience asking strangers to draw a bicycle: Most people do not draw very well. At all... Many people can't even draw faces very well & we look at faces *all the time*. We're predisposed to spot faces even when they're not there, yet most people get the proportions wrong. I'm not sure why he was surprised that most people couldn't draw a mechanically accurate representation. Bicycles are moderately complex machines that many people feel overwhelmed by, to the point of omitting otherwise advantageous equipment, such as multiple gears. 141.101.98.25 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Well, as you could see, most of the people who tried to draw bicycles were able to at least sketch something that resembled a bicycle. You don't have to be an artist to get the basic idea down. The thing I found more interesting was that many of the drawings were just plain wrong (e.g. the chain going all the way between the front and back wheels) or lacked significant parts. In some cases, it's clear that the drawer just overlooked one or two things - easy to do - and in other cases, it shows that the person actually had difficulty recalling the basic structure of a bicycle. Everyone who participated clearly knows what a bike is and, from a practical standpoint, how it works. But from a brain-sciences perspective, there's a difference between the symbolic memory of a bicycle (I know what it is and how to use it, and I can remember what color mine is, etc.) and detailed visual memory (I know all the parts and can reconstruct them visually). That's what's being exposed in that experiment. :)
That said, I agree that I don't think there's a strong relation between this comic and that experiment. I think it's more likely that Randall is poking fun at both genetic algorithms (perhaps self-learning AIs) and design prototyping (throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks). KieferSkunk (talk) 16:56, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

Does anyone else think the 1980 bike resembles a horse-drawn carriage minus the horses? Specifically, the two long parts Megan is holding look like reins. 108.162.246.122 16:06, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

This one rather makes me think of a chopper, only without the engine. 108.162.229.49 16:49, 27 April 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, there is a movement for both chopper and lowrider bicycles. I have seen both and the 1980's bicycle looks almost like a lowrider bike I saw in Arvada CO probably in 2014. 162.158.255.89 17:29, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

The 1980 design is reminiscent of long-wheelbase recumbent bicycles, which were originally designed in the 1930s and enjoyed a resurgence starting in the later 20th century.  An Iowa company produced a bicycle called a 'Linear' about this time which did have extremely long handlebars; steering it was more like using a tiller on a boat. The fallacy here is using a chaindrive to power the (steerable) front wheel; this simply would not work. RAGBRAIvet (talk) 20:18, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

actually, chain drive to the front wheel would work fine. You would have to fix the front wheel rigidly to the frame, of course, which means the rear wheel must do the steering. It seems possible the odd structure holding the rider (Megan) is intended to let her steer the rear wheel by twisting her body. 108.162.212.50 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I came here thinking I did not get the joke. After reading the description I see I am not the only one. 108.162.246.119 16:23, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Same here. I think the joke is just Randall exaggerating actual bicycle designs. Either that or it's "The Evolution of the Bicycle" in an alternate reality. 173.245.52.62 17:30, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Is the point of the timeseries that while most things in biology evolve gradually over time (think all of those Evolution of Man t-shirts), undergoing great changes in form, we basically hit all the possible bicycle designs in the first 20 years and it has gone along essentially unchanged ever since? There are specialty bikes made possible by new frame materials, but they are all "Safety Bicycles". The takeaway of the comic could be either about the simplicity of the solution to the bicycle "problem", or about the difference between engineered design and the natural selection. Peregrinus (talk) 17:27, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

The 1955 design reminds me of the movie "Rubber". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1612774/ Is that too tenuous of a connection? ChrisPwildcat (talk) 19:11, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

I definitely made the same connection. (Wow, the scene where the tire stares into its own reflection & remembers all of its actions so far... I felt empathy for that tire. WTH?) The 1955 design definitely implies that the wheels are trying to kill Cueball. 141.101.98.25 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Perhaps you are feeling sorry for the 1955 tires. That is because you are crazy. The 1980 design is much better. </ikea> :) KieferSkunk (talk) 14:38, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

This reminds me of certain videos I watched about evolution, in sequence, the picutres could be describe various models (some of them apparently unfit, thus discontinued) of bicycles as if they were derived from the laws that govern evolution (random mutation and natural selection). 198.41.243.242 21:42, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Could the 1955 design be backwards cheese rolling? 173.245.54.44 21:54, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

(Re: 1955) "This is obviously the most ridiculous of all of these designs" - clearly, someone has really badly misspelt the word "awesome" here. Please fix. 141.101.98.92 08:12, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

And the text I quoted is no longer in the article. Muahahaha, the power of the talk page! 141.101.98.92 15:58, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

Someone using the 2016 bicycle wouldn't be very welcome in Skyrim (milkdrinkers...) 108.162.219.79 14:36, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

This could be an example of a (badly parameter-ed) genetic algorithm. 108.162.237.244 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I added a table describing each bicycle design (not copied from the transcript), naming things the design is similar to (e.g. unicycles, Pennyfarthings, etc.), and what's wrong with it. :) KieferSkunk (talk) 14:36, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

1940 bicycle: Megan looks as if she is propelling her bike like a Venetian gondola.These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk)

Could this be related to either UI design philosophies or business process design ideas that prevailed in those eras? 162.158.255.18 20:00, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

Categories

Quick question: I noticed this explanation is included in "Category:Multiple Cueballs". Is this correct? It stands to reason that we may just have the same Cueball appearing in multiple photos as he attempts to demonstrate how to use each bike design. If we do consider this an instance of multiple Cueballs, should we also have a category for multiple Megans, since she appears three times as well? KieferSkunk (talk) 17:17, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm almost certain he is making fun of https://vimeo.com/73581450 173.245.54.47 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

In my honest opinion, it is a reference to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOFws_hhZs8 162.158.196.191 00:09, 2 May 2016 (UTC)GianniPiccioni

Could the 1940 design resemble a tank? It was the beginning of WWII. 141.101.70.151 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Regarding the explanation of the 1900's design: "... but it's unclear what he's doing.": Imho it's not unclear but quite obvious that Cueball's operating the device with somthing like this: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/industrial-wheel-valve-handle-vintage-rusty-equipment-machine-part-40567595.jpg What do you think? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:37, 2 May 2016 (UTC)

And for the 1940's design: Why does using a pole not count for propulsion and steering? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt_%28boat%29 Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:49, 2 May 2016 (UTC)
I'm honestly not sure how you can make out what Cueball is doing on the 1900 bike - do you have access to a higher-resolution image than I do? Even zooming in on the one in the comic, I can only make out that Cueball is standing on the thing, but otherwise not determine what he's doing. As for the 1940 design: Pushing the pole against the ground is a means of external propulsion - as in, the bike has no way to be propelled within itself (pedals, etc.). Using the pole on the ground is in the same vein as pushing a wheelbarrow from behind - the only difference is that the person pushing the pole is on the bike, and so you can still call it a vehicle. KieferSkunk (talk) 19:51, 3 May 2016 (UTC)
Maybe my mind is just filling the gaps, but I derive it from Cueball's posture. But indeed, I cannot actually see what he's doing. Maybe we could agree on something like "Due to low resolution it's not perfectly clear what he's doing, but presumably the upper wheel might be something like a big crank wheel Cueball's operating"? For the 1940's: To be honest I don't see why this should be called "external" (and therefore being invalid as propulsion at all?). The wheelbarrow on the other hand is external. Why? The 1940's design is - from a propulsion point of view - the same as a rowboat, while the wheelbarrow is a sailboat. Or if you get more modern: The 1940's design is a normal rocket while the wheelbarrow is this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beam-powered_propulsion. But that's not my point. I simply want to know what's making using a pole invalid in regard to being a means of propulsion at all. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:17, 4 May 2016 (UTC)

Someone keeps insisting that Megan appears 4 times and Cueball only 3, and at one point they specifically said it was Megan on the 1900 bike. I'm pretty sure it's Cueball on the 1900 bike, so he would appear in 1825, 1900, 1915 and 1955, with Megan showing up in 1860, 1940 and 1980. Does anyone see differently here? KieferSkunk (talk) 20:09, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

Agree. 3 Megan, 4 Cueball (and 1 Ponytail) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:17, 4 May 2016 (UTC)

On the 1925 bicycle, I don't think it's just the wheels at the ends that touch the ground; it seems like all of them do. A reason for the wheels at the end to be farther down could just be because of the way Randall accidentally drew them; when I draw fractals like that, it's hard to keep the tiniest bits in line with the rest because of how small they would have to be (don't know if that makes sense at all). 172.68.142.179 19:02, 6 February 2019 (UTC)