Bicycles in Illustration

In Year 10 art class, one project set by our teacher was to render a part of a bicycle using black biro. If you’ve ever done an exercise like that, you’ll know how many details comprise a bike.

When illustrating bicycles, then, it’s often a matter of simplifying the machine, lest the entire image become a technical drawing of a bicycle which unhelpfully foregrounds the bicycle itself.

How have artists depicted bicycles in illustration (or not)? Below are some examples spanning decades, including a number of different styles of bike.

The Pedalling Palludinis, Illustration by Edward Gorey from 'The Broken Spoke', 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
The Pedalling Palludinis, Illustration by Edward Gorey from ‘The Broken Spoke’, 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
J&P Coats advertisement, 1880s
Suffolk author & illustrator Kathleen Hale, Orlando the Marmalade Cat bicycle
Suffolk author & illustrator Kathleen Hale, Orlando the Marmalade Cat
Charles A. Cox poster for Bearings (1896) bicycle
Charles A. Cox poster for Bearings (1896)
Innocence on the bicycle of propriety, Illustration by Edward Gorey from ‘The Broken Spoke’, 1976. Dodd, Mead and Company. New York
'They and I' Cover by Sergio Burzi, 1924 bicycle
‘They and I’ Cover by Sergio Burzi, 1924. One way to avoid the problem of bicycle mechanics is to leave it off the page.

Joey is the first ever picture book about the young life of Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, and includes never before told family stories about the president-elect and former vice president’s childhood—written by Jill Biden, his spouse.

Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His parents always encouraged him and his siblings to be independent and strong. The family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where at twenty-nine, Biden was elected one the youngest United States Senators ever elected. This is his story.

Edward Penfield (1866 – 1925) 1895 Orient Cycles
Edward Penfield (1866 – 1925) 1895 Orient Cycles

Stranger Things meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers in this thrilling sci-fi adventure from bestselling author Dan Smith.

Nancy’s parents are acting weird. Their eyes are blank, they won’t eat – it’s like they’re no longer themselves. Pete and Krish are obsessed with unexplained phenomena and when they offer to help Nancy investigate, they’re sure they can crack the case. But the deeper the trio dig, the darker the mystery gets …Crooked Oak is under attack from a dangerous foe, and they’re the only ones who can stop it.

Ib Spang Olsen illustration from LARS PETERS CYKEL (1968) early recumbent bike
Ib Spang Olsen illustration from LARS PETERS CYKEL (1968) early recumbent bike
The Greedy Little Cobbler by Tony Ross, Arrow Books Ltd, London 1988 bicycle
The Greedy Little Cobbler by Tony Ross, Arrow Books Ltd, London 1988 bicycle
Jean Jacques Sempe 1979 bicycle
Jean Jacques Sempe 1979
Goodrich Bicycle Tires advert by Norman Rockwell bicycle towards
Goodrich Bicycle Tires advert by Norman Rockwell
Girl on bike by Charles Blackman-1953
Girl on bike by Charles Blackman-1953
What Do You Teach a Boy of Twelve, 1955 by Norman Rockwell bicycle
What Do You Teach a Boy of Twelve, 1955 by Norman Rockwell

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