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History of Bicycles

Author: admin / Comments: 0

Being passionate about bicycles makes you want to know more and more about where these awesome “creations” came from. Those of you who are not that familiar with the history of bicycles may want to read on as the information below is very interesting as well as fascinating…

Bicycling was so popular in the 1880s and 1890s that cyclists had formed the League of American Wheelman that still exists today and it’s called the “League of American Bicyclists”. What the League lobbied for was better roads – which meant, literally paving the road for the automobile.

  • The Walking Machine
  • The Walking Machine

    In 1817 Baron von Drais invented a “walking machine” that would help him get around the royal gardens much faster. This walking machine had two same-size in-line wheels, the front one steerable, mounted in a frame which you straddled. The device was propelled by pushing the feet against the ground, rolling yourself and the device forward in a sort of gliding walk. The machine soon became to be known as the Draisienne or the ‘hobby horse’. It was manufactured entirely of wood. However it enjoyed a short term popularity as it wasn’t quite useful for transport in any other place except on well-maintained pathways such as parks or gardens.



  • The Velocipede or Boneshaker
  • The Velocipede or Boneshaker

    The following debut of a two-wheeled riding machine was in 1865. Pedals were applied on the front wheel. This machine had been named: the velocipede, which meant "fast foot". Also it was popularly known as the ‘bone shaker’, since it was also made entirely of wood. Later on it was manufactured with metal tires; however the combination of these with the cobblestone roads from that time, made for an extremely uncomfortable ride.



  • The High Wheel Bicycle
  • The High Wheel Bicycle

    In 1870 the first all metal made machine had come into the picture. The pedals were still attached directly to the front wheel with no freewheeling mechanism. Solid rubber tires and the long spokes of the large front wheel provided a much smoother ride than its predecessor. The front wheels became bigger and bigger as the manufacturers had realized that the bigger the wheel, the further you were able to travel with one rotation of the pedals. The purchase of a wheel was done according to the person’s leg length. This machine was the first one to be called a bicycle - "two wheels". These bicycles enjoyed a great popularity especially among young men of means (as their cost was an average worker’s six month's pay).

    Because the rider sat so high above the center of gravity, if the front wheel was to be blocked by a stone for example or rut on the road, the entire mechanism would rotate forward on its front axle. The rider, with his legs being trapped under the handlebars, would immediately be thrown on his head.

  • The High Wheel Tricycle
  • The High Wheel Tricycle

    Ladies could take a spin around the park on an adult tricycle. These machines also allowed more dignity to gentlemen such as doctors and clergymen. Many mechanical innovations now associated with the automobile were originally invented for tricycles. Rack and pinion steering, the differential, and band brakes, just to name a few…






  • The High Wheel Safety
  • The High Wheel Safety

    Improvements concerning the design began to be seen, many with the small wheel in the front to eliminate the tipping-forward problem. One exemplary was promoted by its manufacturer by being ridden down the front steps of the capitol building in Washington, DC. These designs became known as high-wheel safety bicycles. Since the older high-wheel designs had been known simply as bicycles, they were now referred to as "ordinary bicycles" in comparison with the new-fangled designs, and then simply as "ordinaries."



  • The Hard-Tired Safety
  • The Hard-Tired Safety

    With metal it was finally strong enough to make a fine chain and sprocket, small and light enough for a human being to power. The next design was a return to the original configuration of two same-size wheels, except now, instead of just one wheel circumference for every pedal turn, you could, through the gear ratios, have a speed the same as the huge high-wheel. The bicycles still had the hard rubber tires, and in the absence of the long, shock-absorbing spokes, the ride they provided was much more uncomfortable than any of the high-wheel designs. Many of these bicycles of 100 years ago had front and/or rear suspensions. These models were in competition with each other, the buyer’s choice remaining to choose between the high-wheel's comfort and the safety's safety.

  • The Pneumatic-Tired Safety
  • The Pneumatic-Tired Safety

    The pneumatic tire was primary used for the bicycle by an Irish veterinarian who was trying to give his young son a more comfortable ride on his tricycle. The creative young doctor's name was Dunlop. Now, comfort and safety had been available in the same package, and that package was getting cheaper as manufacturing methods improved because everyone desired to ride the bicycle. The 1898 Yale uses a shaft drive to dispense with the dirty chain.

    It seemed to be a practical investment for the working man as transportation, and it had given these people a much greater flexibility for leisure. Ladies, therefore consigned to riding the heavy adult size tricycles that were only functional for taking a turn around the park. The bicycle craze killed the bustle and the corset, and it instituted "common-sense dressing" for women and increased their mobility considerably. In 1896 Susan B. Anthony stated that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world."

  • The Kid's Bike
  • The Kid's Bike

    Popularized only after the First World War by several manufacturers, such as Mead, Sears Roebuck, and Montgomery Ward, in order to revitalize the bike industry, these designs, now called "classic", featured automobile and motorcycle elements to appeal to kids who, apparently, would rather have a motor. These bikes developed into the most glamorous, fabulous, heavy designs ever made. They were built in the middle of the '50s, by which time they had already taken on design elements of jet aircrafts and even rockets as well. By the '60s, they started to become leaner and simpler.

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