Who invented the first motorcycle, I am not aware. But who was the inventor of the first bicycle? That, I’m quite certain is J.K. Starley.
The bicycle, history tells me, was invented during the Industrial Revolution in the mid 19th century.
As a young boy, I still remember very clearly a few brands of well known brands of bikes such as Raleigh, Robin Hood and Sunbeam.
In the alter 1950s and early 1960s, bicycle were sold at around the prices of RM150 and RM250 each. For those who are not aware, every bicycle has an individual number of its own. As such, if your bicycle should be stolen, you can always lodge a complain at the local police station.
And where you may wish to know, is the above number located?
The individual number is embossed on the metal bar which holds up the bicycle’s seat.
Do you know that there are specifically 2 varieties of bicycle?
One for the ladies and the other for the boys or men. And how do you go about distinguishing them?
The men folks bicycles have a cross-bar, which stretches across from the seat to the handle-bar of the bicycle. In reality, one could seat a friend on this bar. Nonetheless, since young, my elders have always advised me that it is an offence permitting a pal or a friend to sit in the above position.
Well then, what about the ladies bicycles?
Ladies bikes, if you should observe it carefully, are built slightly different from gentleman’s bikes as they call it. The ladies bike are built with V shape metal contraptions which connects up the bikes framework.
A bicycle, which is built in such a way, easily allows a lady, especially one who is wearing a skirt to lift her legs across to the other side of the bike in her attempts to get astride a bicycle.
In this manner, a ladies modesty is therefore preserved. Think about it and you’ll surely agree with what I am referring to.
Speaking about bicycles, it would only be fair if mention is made of another type of bicycle which is available in Malaysia. People call it a gentleman’s bike.
This bicycle is in reality meant for adults or gentlemen, so to speak. Tall men seem to prefer such bicycles. They are larger in size and much heavier than normal bikes.
Without a doubt, these bikes costs a lot more money than other smaller bikes. I remember quite vividly my paternal grandfather, Ong Hock Chuan, a well-known auctioneer, owning one such a bicycle. The bicycle in question was not only huge, it was also strong.
And of course, my elder brother and myself always found it difficult to handle it. My grandfather, finally sold this gentleman’s bike to my father for RM300 in the 1960s. My grandfather, who was then in his 70’s, had by then contacted Parkinson’s disease and his hands were trembling. My grandmother eventually felt it was no longer advisable for my grandfather to ride a bike then.
In the early 1960’s, a new form of bicycle was introduced. It was as the Chinese says, half a bicycle and half a motorbike. It was called a moped. I still remember my uncle, Ong Han Leong, who was formerly attached to the East Asiatic Company at Port Klang , riding his moped to our house in Telok Pulai, Klang.
My uncle would ride his moped, when he discovered the machine running low on fuel. I was about 13 or 14 years old then. I was pretty intrigued by the machine at that time.
In the later years following, our country saw the introduction of racing bicycles into the market. Racing bicycles were quite costly. They were however light as they we made of alluminium.
Racing bicycles could go fast as they had gears mechanism. On of top of that, racing bicycles come in bright and attractive colours.
But the above were not the only types of bicycles available in our country. In the early fifties and sixties, trishaws, which were in reality 3 wheeled bicycles, became rather popular in the small towns and kampung areas.
It was said, Penang, which is popularly known as the Pearl of The Orient, mushroomed with trishaws. It became a cheap and popular means of transport with the lower strata of our society.
As I recall, as a young lad, I can still remember distinctly 3 trishaw riders. One was Yunos, the son of Cik Mah, a kuih seller, living in Kampung Bengkali, near Teluk Pulai. Then there was a Sikh trishaw rider named Ranjit, living in Kampung Ponnusamy in Teluk Pulai too.
And finally, trishaw rider, Khee Kang, who was a Peranakan by descent and also a distant relative of mine, should also be made mention of.
It should be reiterated here that the majority of trishaw riders are hard working people who live a rather frugal life.
In Melaka, trishaws which are brightly coloured and decorated with a variety of flags and buntings, still attract foreign tourists who throng the historical city. Penang, mentioned earlier, still possess its fair share of trishaws too. They are indeed very popular amongst foreign tourists even up to this day.
In one of my earlier article, I talked about electric bicycle and how I hope the government will not make the wrong choice of banning the so called electric bicycle. The electric bicycle is infact a boon, an assistance to the older folks, pensioners, kampung folks and especially who may have suffered physical deformities, including those who were born handicapped.
The electric bicycle is indeed a great help to the above group of people. Banning its use would certainly cause much despair to many people, who depend on it as a valuable means of transport.
The humble bicycle is pollution free. Think about its advantages. The government should infact be encouraging people to ride bicycle more. It gives riders good exercise.
Besides, the use of bicycles will lessen traffic jams and environmental pollution. It would go a long way to create a cleaner and healthier atmosphere which we all need. Viva to the bicycles! Why not get one today?