Category: Invention of the Bicycle

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Invention of the Bicycle

animated-bicycle-image-0029

A modern Bicycle by definition is a rider-powered vehicle with two wheels in tandem, powered by the rider turning pedals that are connected to the rear wheel by a chain, and having handlebars for steering and a saddlelike seat for the rider. With that definition in mind, let’s look at the history of early bicycles that led up to the modern bicycle.The earliest bicycle was a wooden scooter-like contraption called a celerifere; it was invented about 1790 by Comte Mede de Sivrac of France. In 1816, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, of Germany, invented a model with a steering bar attached to the front wheel, which he called a Draisienne.It has two wheels (of the same size), and the rider sat between the two wheels, but there were no pedals; to move, you had to propel the bicycle forward using your feet (a bit like a scooter). He exhibited his bicycle in Paris on April 6, 1818. Kirkpatrick MacMillan (1812-1878), a blacksmith from Dumfriesshire, Scotland, invented the first bicycle with foot pedals in the 1830 to 1840’s, but he never patented it and his idea did not catch on locally. A French father-and-son team of carriage-makers, Pierre and Ernest Michaux, invented an improved bicycle in the 1860’s.Many early bicycles (called velocipedes, meaning “fast foot,” or, more descriptively, “bone shakers”) had huge front wheels – it was thought that the bigger the wheel, the faster you could go. Early tires were wooden – metal tires were an improvement, and solid rubber tires were added later. A chain with sprockets was added to the bicycle in the 1880’s; this was called the “safety bicycle.” Air-filled tires were also added in the 1880’s. The derailleur gear system was added in the 1970’s.

Invention of the Bicycle

A modern bicycle by definition is a rider-powered vehicle with two wheels in tandem, powered by the rider turning pedals that are connected to the rear wheel by a chain, and having handlebars for steering and a saddlelike seat for the rider. With that definition in mind, let’s look at the history of early bicycles that led up to the modern bicycle.The earliest bicycle was a wooden scooter-like contraption called a celerifere; it was invented about 1790 by Comte Mede de Sivrac of France. In 1816, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, of Germany, invented a model with a steering bar attached to the front wheel, which he called a Draisienne.

It has two wheels (of the same size), and the rider sat between the two wheels, but there were no pedals; to move, you had to propel the bicycle forward using your feet (a bit like a scooter). He exhibited his bicycle in Paris on April 6, 1818. Kirkpatrick MacMillan (1812-1878), a blacksmith from Dumfriesshire, Scotland, invented the first bicycle with foot pedals in the 1830 to 1840’s, but he never patented it and his idea did not catch on locally. A French father-and-son team of carriage-makers, Pierre and Ernest Michaux, invented an improved bicycle in the 1860’s.
animated-bicycle-image-0029
Many early bicycles (called velocipedes, meaning “fast foot,” or, more descriptively, “bone shakers”) had huge front wheels – it was thought that the bigger the wheel, the faster you could go. Early tires were wooden – metal tires were an improvement, and solid rubber tires were added later. A chain with sprockets was added to the bicycle in the 1880’s; this was called the “safety bicycle.” Air-filled tires were also added in the 1880’s. The derailleur gear system was added in the 1970’s.


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