Talk:1673: Timeline of Bicycle Design

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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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. 13:04, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

That 1860 bike looks like the American Star Bicycle, but the year doesn't match. 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. 15:05, 27 April 2016‎

This comic strongly remind me of 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. (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.) 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. (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. (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. 16:06, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

This one rather makes me think of a chopper, only without the engine. 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. 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. (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. 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. 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". 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. (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). 21:42, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Could the 1955 design be backwards cheese rolling? 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. 08:12, 28 April 2016 (UTC)

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

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

This could be an example of a (badly parameter-ed) genetic algorithm. (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? 20:00, 19 May 2016 (UTC)


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 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

In my honest opinion, it is a reference to 00:09, 2 May 2016 (UTC)GianniPiccioni

Could the 1940 design resemble a tank? It was the beginning of WWII. (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: 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? 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: 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). 19:02, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

Somebody replaced the entire article with “crap crap crap crap”