Let's Get Physical #3: Bikes!

The bicycle boom during the 70s was the biggest the United States has ever had, and it was especially remarkable because it was such a tremendous jump. During the sixties, the number of bicycles sold had increased from 3.7 million in 1960 to 5.6 million in 1965 but only to 6.9 million bikes sold in 1970. Who would have guessed that 15.2 million bicycles would be sold in '73, just three years later? [source]

What was the cause for such a leap? It was due in part to improvements in their design and the introduction of the 10 speed.  The major reason, however, was the dramatic change in the culture. There was a renewed interest in both personal health and the environment.  The counter-culture had officially penetrated the mainstream, and taking a bike versus an automobile was the perfect hippie statement.  Plus, rising gas prices provided that extra incentive to keep the car parked in the driveway.

I was a part of the seventies bike revolution, but not for health or the environment - it was just for fun. Like most kids, I had one of those banana seat bikes with high handlebars. Thankfully, my parents never made me put one of those tall orange flags on the back. One thing NO ONE wore back in those days was a helmet.

"Bicycle safety... it starts with a light and a horn or bell".... but no helmet.

I really enjoy looking through old bike promotional material - not for the bicycle nostalgia as much as the fashions. They're great time capsules, and you'll note a lot of them feature beautiful women on bikes. Yes, sex sells even bicycles - especially in the 60s and 70s.

So, enjoy this little slideshow of about 50 vintage images of people and their bicycles. Again, a reminder that you can expand the slideshow to full screen by the "four arrow" icon at the bottom right, and hit "escape" to return to this post. Enjoy!


  1. I love these old bikes. My wife has picked up a few at garage sales for dirt cheap. I'm not sure why people are getting rid of them, they're a blast to ride. She grabbed this Schwinn tandem for $20: http://www.flickr.com/photos/demxod8/3658571965/sizes/l/ I used a little rust removed on the fenders and it cleaned right up. I still have my sister's old Stingray too.

  2. My every day rider is a custom 1973 Stingray. Fuzzy leopard-print banana seat, ape hangers, white walls....

    She's a real beaut. Cost me 25 bucks.

  3. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    About three years ago, my kids presented me with a restorable 1969 Orange Krate for my birthday. It's been fun working on it, and I'm amazed at how much is still available for them. I guess they know I never stopped loving Stingrays!

  4. This country could sure use another cycling revolution these days!

  5. I only had a 3 speed bike that used to be my mom's when I was a kid. I didn't really use it much though.