Why men’s and women’s bicycles are different?

Why men’s and women’s bicycles are different?

Have you ever thought that bicycles for men are a bit silly? If your feet slip off the pedals you’re in a big trouble as you get yourself caught on that weirdly high horizontal crossbar. But bicycles marketed for women do not have this straight horizontal piece. Why? Wouldn’t it be better if all bicycles did not have this potential safety-hazard?

No, that prominent crossbar is there for a reason. It makes the bicycle frame much stiffer and stronger. Because bicycles only touche the ground on two distant spots, there is a lot of bending force in the middle of the bike, which could actually brake it, if materials from which it was built were not so good. In the early days, bicycles often were made from wood, so that cross member was actually a crucial part for structural integrity. But why women’s bikes don’t have them then?

High crossbar helps keeping the frame of the bicycle strong and rigid. (Gajda-13, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the early days of riding bicycles women enjoyed wearing skirts and dresses. Lifting one’s leg over such a high horizontal crossbar was less than desirable – it was inconvenient and also could reveal an ‘inappropriate amount’ of leg. Which, of course, was a huge no-no back in a day. That is why women’s bicycle was invented with a slanted crossbar. It made the entire frame weaker and wobblier, but girls and women were not supposed to ride their bikes as hard as men did – it was not an activity recommended for ladies.

Slanted crossbar in women’s bicycles was invented having in mind skirts and dresses. (imoni, Wikimedia)

Nowadays we have better materials for bike manufacturing and that horizontal crossbar is not necessary anymore for cyclists. Without it, you can easily mount your bicycle and face less risks of injuring your family jewels. However, the tradition of separating male and female bicycles is still very much here, if you look at the ads manufacturers are putting out.

Of course, professional bicycles still have that dangerous horizontal crossbar, because it adds stiffness without adding excess weight.

An invention we use every day – who had the idea of brewing tea in small bags?

An invention we use every day – who had the idea of brewing tea in small bags?

Pretty much without mistake we can be sure that everyone reading this article has drunk some tea made with a tea bag. It is the most common way to brew tea and it is easy to see why – it leaves no mess in the cup, it is easy and requires no additional tools. But who was so smart to come up with such an ingenious solution? What tea bags are made of? As usual, this actually was an accidental invention.

Chinese ere using paper tea bags since Tang Dynasty (618–907), but these sewn packages were only meant to preserve tea flavor and smell. Western people had a similar idea, only a little bit later. First tea bag, a fabric bag to contain tea and preserve its properties, was patented in 1903 and went on sale in 1904. Even at that point it didn’t ring a bell to people to shove the bag into hot water to make a mess-free tea drinking experience. But everything changed in 1908.

Tea bags became rectangular in 1944. ( André Karwath, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Thomas Sullivan, tea and coffee importer from New York, started shipping silk tea bags in 1908. It was a nice product, well contained and preserved the delicious taste of the tea. However, people quickly found a better use for it – they started putting porous bags straight into their cups to brew tea. It quickly took off, even though Sullivan never imagined his product being used like this. But, of course, modern tea bags are not made from silk.

Usual tea bags are made from paper fiber – some wood fibers mixed with abaca hemp. Sometimes there is a thermoplastic seal to protect the tea and in other occasions the bag is just folded and stapled together. Although back in a day tea bags resembled a sack in 1944 they became rectangular and now there are many different shapes and sizes.

Some bags are made of bioplastic. ( Aisano, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pyramid tea bags are usually made from bioplastics, instead of paper fiber, which makes them even more porous. Interestingly, it is rarely good tea in tea bags. Manufacturers pack fine left-overs and usually ad some flavouring to make it even more appealing.

It is also interesting that tea bags took off so quickly and are so popular, but efforts to make coffee bags failed spectacularly. It is probably because people like different amounts of coffee powder in their cups.

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