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The history of bicyclers



The History of Bicycles: A Fascinating Journey Through Time

An array of bicycles from different eras.

The bicycle is a simple, efficient, and enjoyable means of transportation. Today, over a billion people worldwide use bicycles for transportation, sport, and leisure. But have you ever stopped to think about where this versatile invention came from? Let's take an illustrative journey through the fascinating history of bicycles.

The First Bicycles: Walking Machines

A representation of the first walking machine.

Believe it or not, the first bicycles did not feature pedals or chains and were navigated by foot. Invented by Baron Karl Drais in Germany in 1817, these 'walking machines' were made of wood and used to get around the royal gardens faster. The first walking machine or 'draisine' looked very different from the modern bicycles, but it laid the foundation for the bicycles of today.

Introduction of Pedals: The Velocipede

An image of a Velocipede.

The introduction of pedals significantly changed the very concept of bicycles. This happened in 1863 when a device called a velocipede, or 'bone shaker', was introduced. The velocipede, invented by Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, featured a steel construction and pedals directly bolted to the front wheel.

Big Front Wheel Bicycles: The High Wheelers

An image of a high wheeler bike.

In the late 1800s, the high wheelers became popular. These cycles had one oversized front wheel and a much smaller rear one. They were faster but extremely unsafe as a minor imbalance could cause the cyclist to topple over the large wheel and onto the ground.

The ‘Safety' Bicycle

An image of a 'Safety' Bicycle.

With a high number of accidents from the high wheeler came the need for a safer design. The 'safety' bikes, invented by John Kemp Starley in 1885, became popular due to their safety compared to high wheelers. These bicycles featured equally sized wheels, a chain drive to the rear wheel, and the ability to keep feet on the ground at halt. This design closely resembles the bicycles we know today.

The Age of Modern Bicycles

An image of a modern bicycle.

As we entered the 20th century, bicycle design saw a period of rapid innovation and development. With the addition of rubber tires, improved gearing, and pneumatic tires, bicycles became progressively more comfortable and efficient. Racing and mountain bicycles, BMXs, hybrids, and ebikes, there is now a range of bicycle types and designs to suit all kinds of riders.


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