Bike Face – The Biggest Health Scare Facing Women Cyclists of the 19th Century

Lady Cyclist

In the late 19th century as cycling grew in popularity, doctors began warning users of the danger of a  fictitious disease known as “Bike Face.” The term was invented to discourage women from bicycling, because it gave them the freedom and mobility to travel from their homes. The invention  also encouraged the development of more practical clothing for women, all of which was extremely upsetting to traditionalists.

As a result, there was a big backlash, and many doctors claimed women could suffer permanent disfigurement from the exertion of cycling. To learn more about the health scare, head over to Vox.


Me - 07/09/14 - 3:58pm

Authority figures lying to the public….nooooo

Chris w - 07/09/14 - 5:35pm

Lmao bicycle face.
It’s real. But I usually call it suffer face. Comes with mud. Lasts about an hour. Not permanent. Oh never mind that’s just CX (or any hard race/ride for that matter)

Ryan - 07/09/14 - 5:58pm

This is right up there with Hurried Woman Syndrome.

ShopMechanic - 07/09/14 - 6:57pm

This reminds me of the Art’s Cyclery Blog post from the 4th on how bicycles were instrumental in the turn of the century women’s liberation movement.

Superstantial - 07/09/14 - 7:31pm

Another made-up-women’s disease in a proud tradition stretching all the way back to diagnoses of “hysteria” (hysteria = uterus, so it only applied to women). Thankfully we don’t make up nonsense to discredit and marginalize women anymore, right? … Right?

Harry - 07/09/14 - 10:15pm

Actually it was “hysteria = WANDERING uterus”
It’s the wandering that makes it so hysterical!

Harry - 07/09/14 - 10:23pm

Really dig the crossed downtubes on her bike!
You can tell it was a primo bike back then.
Her “Bike Face” stands the test of Time.

Superstantial - 07/10/14 - 6:03am

@Harry – you’re right, “hysteria” is more like “of the uterus”, I meant “hystera”, which just means “uterus”. In any case, vague women-specific disease.

@chasejj – maybe we’re not giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe women used to ride bikes way differently leading to bike face rather than the current ill.

80 - 07/11/14 - 3:37pm

This is very extremely true. Just look at the terrible bike face this girl has;

Seriously though, that bike is hot.

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