The History of the Bicycle

The History of the Bicycle | Bart Haynes There are many people who claim credit as the inventors of the first bicycle ever. Therefore the answer highly depends on the person you ask and their nationality. For example, the French claim that the inventor was a Frenchman, English claim that it was an Englishman, Scot claim that the person was a Scotsman and America also claim that it was an American who made the first bicycle. Since early 1990s International Cycling History Conferences with Cycle History proceedings has worked to getting past the Jingoism. However, there are several people who contributed to the bicycle development.

Bicycle Date Development

• 1418

Giovanni Fontania is accredited for having constructed a human powered land vehicle for the first time. The vehicle used an endless rope connected to wheels via gears.

• 1493

In this year Leonardo da Vinci drew the primitive bicycles versions which surfaced in 1974. Additional examinations of these drawings indicate that da Vinci is not the real artist behind the images. The speculations that they were a sketch by a school kid after da Vinci lost a drawing is also thought to be false. The library in Milan decided to conceal the negative results of an age test earlier performed. Some experts believe that the sketches are a hoax.

• 1791

Cimte de Sicrac is believed to have built the “celerifer,” a hobby horse which had two wheels and not a rocker. It is considered to be a hoax formed by a French historian in the year 1891. A French researcher debunked it in the year 1976. As a matter of fact, a Jean Sievrac of Marseille received an import price for the four wheeled speed coach known as Celerifer in the 1817.

• 1817

Mostly referred to as the running machine, the Draisienne, velocipede and dandy horse. Karl Drais invented it in response to the widespread starvation and the slaughtering horses. Crop failure that resulted the year before led to Tambora eruption. It featured a steerable front wheel and it’s the first two wheeler principle appearance which is the primary principle to motorcycling and cycling and also reduces rolling resistance. The Velocipedes were entirely made of wood and required balancing through directing the front wheel. Furthermore, people never dared to lift their legs from the ground. And therefore, they propelled the Velocipedes by simply pushing them with their feet. After the 1817 great harvest, velocipedes were forbidden worldwide on sidewalks and they couldn’t balance on rutted carriageway, the fad passed. It took almost 50 years before a skating boom formed a new public with an improved sense of balance.

• 1839

Kirkpatric Mcmillan, a blacksmith from Scotland adapted a treadle type of pedals to a bicycle considered to be a hoax which is another major entry in the bicycle.

• 1863

Velocipede or the bone shaker was made up of stiff materials, steel wheels and straight angles which made the bicycle a bone shaker to use on cobblestone roads. The front wheel was a development with fixed gear, direct drive and one speed. The machine also called the fast foot or the velocipede and popularly known as the bone shaker. The bicycle was also a fad and ondoor riding academies just like roller rinks could be easily found in the large cities.

• 1870

The ordinary bicycles are better known as the high wheelers. They were more comfortable to ride than the predecessor even though they required an acrobat and therefore, their popularity was limited. It was the first machine made of metal throughout. Previously, metallurgy wasn’t advanced enough to offer metal strong enough to make small and light parts. Its pedals were attached directly to its front wheel and without freewheeling mechanism. The front wheel’s long spokes and solid rubber tires offered a much smoother ride compared to its predecessor. As makers continued to realize that the larger the front wheel the longer distance you would travel with a single pedal rotation, they continued to increase the size of the front wheel.

People purchased front wheels of the size that the length of their legs would allow. The bicycles enjoyed great popularity amongst the young men of means as they costed an average worker 6 times of their basic pay, with the decade of the 1880s being the hey-day. Since riders sat very high above the center of gravity if a rut or stone stopped the front wheel on the road, or a sudden dog emergency happened, the apparatus rotated forward on the front axle and the rider’s legs could be trapped under its handlebars and could also be dropped unceremoniously on their head. And therefore the term “taking a header” came into existence. The apparatus was the first to be called a bicycle or the two wheeler.

• 1872

Fredrich Fischer from Germany produced steel ball bearings in large scale and Jules Surray patented it around 1869.

• 1876

Harrison and Browett (English) patent an earlier caliper brake.

• 1876

Scott and Phillot from England patented the first practicable epicyclic change speed gear which was fitted into the front driving bicycle hub.

• 1878

The first cycles manufacturer begun their operations with the Columbia Bicycle at Weed Sewing Machine Company factory with Hartford, Ct. The first ever regular trade catalogue had 20 pages. First bicycles were 60” high wheelers and were selling at $125 while sewing machines sold at $13.

• 1879

Henry J. Lawson patented the rear wheel, the chain driven safety bicycle and the bicyclette. Bicyclettes were earlier models which were lever driven.

• 1890

The safety bike developed in the 1890s was much safer than the ordinary bicycle. The metallurgy development sparked the next innovation or return to the previous design. It had much stronger metals which made a fine chain and small sprocket. It was also light enough such that a human being would easily power it. The design that followed was a return to original configuration of two wheels of same size. This model allowed individuals to have a speed similar to the size of the huge wheel.

During the time, bicycles had the hard rubber tires and absence of long shock absorbing spokes, provided an uncomfortable drive than any of the wheel designs. The bicycles had a front and a rear suspension. They also competed amongst themselves and most people either selected them depending on their safety. The design that followed led to the death of all the preceding bicycles and was more like the standard bicycle. With the bicycle, most people now enjoyed cycling.

• 1890

By 1890, bicycles were produced in a mass number. They were also a practical investment for the working population as they highly relied on them for transportation and gave them more flexibility in their leisure. Women also highly enjoyed riding.