How We Ride: A History of Play on Two Wheels

More than a century ago, Americans took to the open road on new-fangled bicycles. On city streets and country lanes, cyclists nimbly darted past riders on horses and cumbersome carriages. As its design and materials evolved, bicycles not only inspired speed and endurance racing, but they also influenced women’s clothing and liberated courting couples from prying eyes. By the 1920s, bicycles marketed to American children delivered independence on two wheels as neighborhood kids rode their bicycles across town—far from Mom’s watchful eye.

Americans have traveled great distances on smooth roads, around racetracks, up craggy mountain paths, and over rugged terrain while enjoying the freewheeling feeling bicycles deliver. 

The Strong’s How We Ride tells the story of Americans at play on two-wheeled vehicles. This online exhibit presents rare artifacts from the museum’s world-class collections of bicycles, trade cards, posters, and other related materials and demonstrates how bicycles have influenced American pastimes, culture, and values.

Click on the image below to explore Americans on the move.