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History

Australia's first bikes

The first bicycles arrived in the colonies in the 1860s and Australians were quick to embrace this new technology. By the late 1890s the 'safety' bicycle offered people a cheaper and more comfortable ride and the cycling craze had taken hold. Riding schools and touring clubs formed and cycle racing became a big business.

Women on wheels

Breaking barriers

Women have been captivated by cycling since bicycles arrived in Australia. The bike was a catalyst for emancipation as women enjoyed new independence and freedom. Today, Australian women continue to take up cycling in increasing numbers, although professionals receive a disproportionately small share of funding.

Children's bikes

My first bike

Bicycles designed for children were developed soon after the invention of the safety bicycle in the 1880s, but for many decades they were not mass-produced in Australia. Children rode tricycles and adult bikes until the 1950s, when bicycles came to be seen more as a child’s toy or a way for young people to get around.

World champions

On the world stage

In the decades after the bicycle arrived in Australia, cycling competitions became big business. Talented riders abandoned their amateur status to vie for cash prizes in major competitions in Australia and overseas. Cycling's popularity declined in the mid-20th century, but underwent a major resurgence from the 1980s, with government funding for high-performance programs.

Mountain biking

Nature's playground

Getting out of town to explore the bush has always been part of cycling in Australia. Early riders tackled many different surfaces and as the numbers of cars increased from the 1950s, cyclists became more determined to go 'off-road'. Mountain bikes reached Australia in the early 1980s and quickly became popular with a new generation of cyclists. Today, mountain bikes account for most new bicycle sales.

Club cycling

Weekend warriors

The first cycle races in Australia were novelty events at athletics carnivals. By the 1880s newly formed cycling clubs were organising meets and by the early 20th century, competitive cycling clubs with track and road racing programs, had formed across the country. Earlier divisions between amateur and professional riders have eroded over time and there are now about 200 cycling clubs in Australia, with nearly 50,000 members.

Long-distance

Traversing the continent

Since the 1870s, generations of bicycle-riding explorers, adventurers and athletes have tested their wills, bodies and machines against the vast distances of the Australian continent. Some have pushed themselves to the limit for glory, some to earn sponsorship dollars, and others simply because they wanted to get from one place to another.

Touring

Rambling and randonneuring

As the number of bicycles increased during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Australians took up touring, rambling from town to town on leisurely longer rides. Cycle touring declined in popularity after the Second World War, as many people started travelling in cars.

By the 1980s, however, long-distance recreational rides made a comeback through mass participation events and randonneuring, a non-competitive sport in which cyclists aim to complete a set course within a specified time limit.

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