Like most things in the modern world, the design and technology of the common bicycle has undergone a revolution in the last twenty years. During the 1970s, when multi-speed bikes exploded onto the marketplace, they were thought to be state-of-the-art. But those bikes were still made just like every other bike, with the same steel frame as every other bike available in that time. And they were designed and built much the same way as bicycles had been for more than a century.
Bicycle design and construction has been affected by the development of new lightweight materials. Modern models available from Diamondback Mountain Bicycles and other manufacturers weigh in at just under 24 pounds. This has been made possible with the use of aluminum and carbon fiber for the frame and front forks. The combination makes for less muscular effort while pedaling and greater road stability. The latter quality is made possible by the flexibility of the carbon fiber components which flex and absorb road vibration far more efficiently than was ever possible with metal frame bikes.
Other improvements in bicycle design tackled the problem of aerodynamic configuration. This includes not just the frame but also the shape the rider assumes while mounted. The aerodynamic qualities of a bicycle and rider are just as important a factor as the overall weight in pedaling efficiency to achieve maximum performance for minimum effort. This makes a big difference when it comes to long-distance riding, and is a boon for entry-level cyclists.
In the 1970s, the ten-speed bike was a big deal. It also had some common mechanical problems which plagued cyclists on a regular basis, of which the misalignment of the chain while shifting was but one annoyance needing constant attention. Today’s performance bikes, even at the level of a starter bike, sport up to 24 gears and a vastly improved drivetrain design which allows for far smoother shifting and transition between gears. The result is easy power transfer from long-distance cruising to speed cycling to climbing up hills. These improvements are the result of a combination of mechanical design evolution and detailed study of human kinematics. Together, the result has created a drivetrain system which requires no more effort to drive the bicycle than running a simple single-speed bike across a flat surface regardless of the terrain or the slope of the road.