Tao

As with so many technical innovations such as the plough and deep well drilling, the Chinese invented the bicycle many hundreds of years before us. Moreover, they found it a source of constant inspiration either through the way it worked or because of its potential for enhancing human power. Thus Lao Tzu wrote in the 5th century BC:

Thirty spokes
Share one hub
Adapt the nothing therein to
the purpose in hand, and you
will have the use of the
bicycle. Rubber walls make a
tube. Adapt the nothing
therein to the purpose in hand
and you will have the use of
the tyre.

Thus what we gain is
Something, yet it is by virtue
of Nothing that this can be put
to use

The ancient Chinese saw the Universe as an organic whole, with Heaven, Earth, the ruler and his subjects being mutually dependent on the observance of the proper behaviour which would promote harmony. The whole was in a state of constant change, under the influence of two polar forces, Yin (feminine, dark, responsive) and Yang (masculine, light and competitive). They developed the three-speed gear as a mechanical analogy of the constant interaction between Heaven and Earth, with the planet pinions revolving around the sun pinion and the three Yang speed alternating with the Yin; free wheeling. This relationship is demonstrated in the diagram below: