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The history of bicycles



The History of Bicycles

A vintage bicycle

The bicycle, as we know it today, has evolved over time from its original inception in the early 19th century. Its invention revolutionized transportation and it is now used by millions around the world for commuting, sport, and recreation.

The Inception: The Walking Machine

The first iteration of the bicycle was the "walking machine" or "draisine" invented by German Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. This vehicle, propelled by pushing off the ground with the rider's feet, featured a steerable front wheel but no pedals. Essentially, it was a balance bike.

Walking Machine

The Pedal Bicycle

The pedal-powered bicycle was invented in the 1860s by Frenchmen Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement. They added a mechanical crank drive system to the front-wheel of the "walking machine", transforming it into what we now recognize as a bicycle.

Pedal Bicycle

The Safety Bicycle

The "safety bicycle" emerged in 1885 thanks to John Kemp Starley. The safety bicycle featured equal sized wheels and a chain drive to the rear wheel. It was much safer than its high-wheel counterparts and its basic design is still the standard for bicycles today.

Safety Bicycle

The Modern Bicycle

During the 20th century, bicycles continued to evolve with the introduction of features like caliper brakes, derailleurs, and more comfortable seating. Perhaps most importantly, the mass production of bicycles began, making them widely available and affordable for the common person.

Modern Bicycle

From simple walking machine to complex racing and commuting machines, the bicycle has had a long and storied history. Its impact on transportation, sport, and human lifestyle is immense and continues to evolve.


Encyclopedia Britannica - Bicycle

American Heritage - Conquering Bicycle


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