Bicycle classification in theory of cycling sport



M.M. Kovylin, associate professor, Ph.D.
V.I. Stolyarov, professor, Dr.Phil.
Y.I. Nedotsuk
Russian state university of physical culture, sport, youth and tourism (SCOLIPC), Moscow

 Key words: bicycle, torque effect, UCI, IHPVA wheeled mover, internal force, classification, taxon, track, highway, BMX, mountain bike, parasport, cruiser, trial, cross-country, downhill, biker-cross / 4cross, tandem bicycle, cycling sport.

Relevance of the study. According to statistics, the current world bicycle park is over 450 million units. Over 15 thousand patents were granted for various bicycle constructions. Bicycle has become multivariant and multidirectional.

The variety of bicycle designs bring to a nonplus even experienced users when choosing a suitable model. In this situation bicycle classification is very important, that is their distribution system into classes, divisions etc. in accordance with specific common features. The lack of the science-based bicycle classification creates significant hindrances in the theoretical aspect – also for design of the theory and methodology of cycling. As classification is one of the important forms of systematization of scientific knowledge. Systemizing a certain subject area it sets the general direction of its further targeted research. However, according to available information in scientific publications usually no attempts of bicycle classification have been made or they were extremely simplified.

The difficulty of developing a science-based bicycle classification is defined by at least two reasons. Firstly, the logical procedure of classification involves solving a set of complex problems - definition: "variety of groups of similar objects; grounds according to which objects are grouped together; principle of law, according to which all groups are connected, organized into a single system" [6 , P. 28]. Secondly, an effective and better uniform concept "bicycle" is required for bicycle classification. However, there are no such scientific publications.

The purpose of the study was to set forth and give scientific credence to the bicycle classification, using a set of empirical and theoretical methods of study: observation, matching, generalization by induction, deduction, concept operations etc. Moreover, the task set is to design a complex hierarchical (multiple-aspect) classification based on several independent characteristics (aspects) and therefore involving numerous categories or classification units of various ranks.

Results and discussion. In our bicycle classification we rest upon the previous study within which the object of this classification – bicycle – is distinguished from the many types of machines as their special kind subject to engine type and used energy, environment and design [5b 6 et al.].

The analysis specified the main essential and distinctive features of a bicycle:

  • upright frame;
  • wheel (one or more); 
  • available leverage and mechanisms intended for control and creation of the torque effect on a wheeled mover.

In compliance with it the following concept of “bicycle” was given. Bicycle – a machine made of wheel and wheels serving a support and fixed with axes on the vertical frame, leverage and mechanisms intended for control and creation of the torque effect on a wheeled mover using external muscular force.

The bicycle classification was based on such a definition of this concept.

It was carried out in view of:

  • the use of bicycles in various spheres of human activity;
  • bicycle design features for different types of events with the use of bicycles: racing, jumping, freestyle riding (dance), acrobatics, game, artistic riding;
  • affiliation of bicycles to track, highway, BMX, mountain bike, (indoor cycling), (para-cycling) parasport disciplines in view of their design features; 
  • used legal norms and regulations, such as compliance of bicycles with UCI and IHPVA regulations.

The classification can be considered complete when taxonomic categories are given to each group of discrete objects (taxons), obtained by proper dividing of the bases at all levels.

Here is a list of major taxonomic ranks used for bicycle classification:


The concept “machine” belongs to archigenus. It includes all mechanisms, performing effective work with transformation of one kind of energy to another.

Two groups of machines belong to genus: machines set in motion by muscular force - to one, all the rest - to the second.

Three categories of machines set in motion by muscular force belong to sort, including machines moving in water, air and land.

Railbikes, manually operated carriages, cycle mobiles, scooters and bicycles – to subsort.

Bicycles – special, sports and general-purpose – to class.

So initially we divide bicycles intro three subclasses – special, sport and general-purpose.

In the subclass of special bicycles the following groups are allocated: official, transport, circus; in the subclass of sports bicycles: racing, acrobatic, game, jumping, for freestyle riding (dance), artistic riding; in the subclass of general-purpose - road.

Further bicycles are systematized by type. On this basis, there are allocated: bicycles for veloball, para-sport, for road racing, track racing, BMX cycling, unicycles, MTB cycling, trial and cross, trishaws, trucks, recumbent bicycles, multipurpose, folding, children, etc.

As subtypes there are distinguished: bicycles for individual races, team races, sprint races, paced races, for pursuit race, classic race, cruiser race, trial-20, trial-26, cross-country, downhill, biker cross (4x), tandems, tricycles, manual bicycles, road bikes and others as shown on Fig.

Conclusions. The stipulated above bicycle classification is scientifically approved and natural for it is designed in view of a set of essential characteristics. This classification is of great theoretical and applied importance.


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