Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A utility bicycle is one which is designed for a practical purpose, as opposed to "sport bicycles" which are designed for recreation and competition, such as touring bicycles, racing bicycles and mountain bicycles.
Utility bicycles are used for short-distance commuting, for running errands, shopping and sometimes promotion. They have been used for courier service in wars and to get around such large workplaces as large factories, warehouses, airports and movie studio lots. Utility bicycles often feature a step-through frame so they can be easily mounted, hub gears and drum brakes to reduce the need for maintenance, mudguards to keep the rider's clothing clean, a chain guard to prevent skirts or loose trousers from being caught in the chain, a prop stand so it can be parked anywhere, and a basket or pannier rack to carry personal possessions or shopping bags. Additionally they tend to boast strong rims/wheels and thick spokes. The handlebars are almost always curved and quite high so that an upright anatomically correct and comfortable riding position is achieved. Some people add a child seat or a trailer.
These parts and features mean a good utility bike is not only functional and durable but usually comfortable and versatile as well.
The utility bicycle is the most widely used form of bicycle in many parts of the world, but in most industrialized nations motor vehicles replaced bicycles for personal transport in the 20th century and the reduced availability of utility bicycles led people to adopt sport bicycles for tasks for which utility bicycles are better suited. A few countries, notably the Netherlands and Denmark, are exceptions to this rule.
There seems to be a resurgence of these bikes in Western countries, bikes such as the Kronan are being sold briskly.
See also: bicycle messenger
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