The Simple Bicycle Is Surprisingly Complicated to Manufacture

This 1945 documentary on the British Film Council's Vimeo takes you step by step through the process of manufacturing a steel Raleigh bicycle. The old bikes you see hipsters riding down the street are much more likely to be ten speeds from the 60s, 70s, or 80s. But it's pretty remarkable how refined bikes were 70 years ago.


That bikes have come a long way since 1945 is a given, but the essential design and components were already in place back then. The chain, gears, brackets, tubes, and other components that we just assume come out of nowhere are actual born of an incredibly complicated manufacturing process. And this is one of the earliest looks at it there is. [Have You Seen This?]


Frame construction no longer uses lugs. So I'm betting manufacturing is actually much easier/cheaper/quicker now. This is especially true since virtually any new bike under $2000 is made in China.

There really isn't much different at all between those old bikes and new bikes though besides the frames. We just use more exotic materials and more spandex.