The US has always had a decimal monetary system. 100 cents equals one dollar. Real simple.
If you have 10095 cents, you simply stick a decimal point two digits in from the left, like so, 100.95 and you have 100 dollars and 95 cents.
Britain too has decimal money. 100 pennies equals one pound. It wasn’t always like that, the new currency was introduced in 1971, and I remember it well. I grew up with a system where 12 pennies made one shilling, and 20 shillings made one pound.
So in the previous example, 10095 British pennies first had to be divided by 12 to get 841 shillings and 3 pennies. Then divide the 841 shillings by 20 to get pounds, for a final amount of 42 pounds, 1 shilling, and 3 pence. A nightmare if you worked in retail.
Measuring length or distance is no different. 12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard, and 1,760 yards to the mile. However, unlike money we hardly ever have to buy a mile length of anything and chop it up into one inch pieces. We don’t really need to know how many inches in a mile.
We do know what an 8 foot length of lumber looks like, and if necessary we can figure out how many 8 foot lengths we need to make a certain number of pieces measured in inches. But if the metric system is forced on us, and they start to sell lumber by the meter, there would be an outcry I am sure.
The same if you go to the grocery store to buy a quart of milk, or 10 lbs. of potatoes, and find those items are now measured in liters or kilos. There would be confusion and aggravation. We also know how fast 30 mph. is, but 50 kilometers per hour, how fast is that? (Actually just over 31 mph.)
Britain is under more pressure to go completely metric because they are a member of the European Union where most other member countries are already metric.
I say leave people alone and let them use whatever they are comfortable with. Change will happen when the old system is no longer practical.
Even in industry in the US, many companies are manufacturing items measured by the metric system. They do this out of necessity when their product is being sold overseas.
When I built frames in England I built them in 1/2 inch increments. 21 inch, 21 1/2 inch, 22 inch, 22 1/2 and so on. When I came to the US, because of the huge influence of Italian made frames, customers asked for frames in centimeters. So I started building 53cm. 54cm. 55cm. 56 and so on. I didn’t fight it, it just made sense to do that.
Back in the 1980s and before that, the standard measurement for bicycle frame tubes were a 1 inch top tube, 1 1/8 inch seat and down tube, and a 1 1/4 inch head tube. Even Italian builders used these same Imperial sizes. (The French being extremely nationalistic would never use British Imperial measurements, and everything on their frames is metric.)
An English bottom bracket thread is 1 3/8 inch diameter, and 24 threads per inch. An Italian BB is slightly bigger at 36mm. and strangely the same 24 threads per inch and not metric. I wonder what happened at the meeting when that standard was decided on.
Traditionally, on English and for most of the rest of the world, front fork steering tubes were always 1 inch and threaded. In the 1990s when threadless steering tubes and headsets were introduced, there was an opportunity to go metric. However, the size chosen was 1 1/8 inch. (Were the Italian bottom bracket people at that meeting too.)
As a final word, I predict, (Though I will never live to see it.) when planet Earth has gone completely metric, and Imperial measurement is a distant memory, one of the last standards to change will be the 1/2 inch pitch bicycle chain. Because, so far even the French have not been able to get around that one.
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