History of Bicycle: When Was the Bicycle Invented?

A lot of us know a bicycle as a two-wheel mode of transportation, often used for leisure or exercise. It is also a good way to go green as it does not produce gas emissions that put the environment in danger.

Do you know how the bikes came out the way they are today? Who invented it? When was it first used? If you want to know the history of bicycle, read the rest of this post and learn from the insights we’ll be sharing.

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History of Bicycle (When Was the Bicycle Invented?)

The first version of the bikes that we are all familiar with today are far from its current design. The current iteration is a result of a series of developments, each geared towards making the bike a better mode of transportation.

The First Bike

It was in 1817 when the first bicycle was developed. It was a work of Karl von Drais, a German baron. It is a two-wheeled and steerable running machine. It has no chain, brakes, and pedals. The rider pushes the bike using his feet. For this reason, Karl von Drais is hailed as the father of bicycle.

This bike is far from the appearance and mechanism of the bikes that you are enjoying today. The average weight is 50 pounds and you have to ride it manually! There is a wooden frame and attached to it are two wooden wheels. In the middle, there is an upholstered saddle.

The invention of the first bike in 1817 is a result of the lack of horses. Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted in 1815. It was a massive eruption and the ash cloud dispersal had a worldwide effect. There has been a global change in temperature. A lot of horses died because of starvation.

The First Bike

Improvements in Von Drais’ Invention

Improvements in Von Drais’ Invention

Inspired by the first version of the bike, several improvements have been introduced later on. For instance, in 1839, Kirkpatrick Macmillan of Scotland added pedals and levers, providing users the opportunity to propel the bike without leaving their feet on the ground.

The Rise of the Penny Farthing

The Rise of the Penny Farthing

It was in 1866 when the penny farthing was introduced by James Starley, a British engineer. This version of an ancient bike is known for its bizarre shape. The front wheel is oversized and on top of it is the saddle. At the rear, there is a small wheel. During the 1870s and 1880s, this was a big hit. It is also the first version of a bike that was used in race competitions.

With a height of four feet, the saddle is too high. This prompts safety concerns and gave rise to the development introduced by John Kemp Starley. He introduced a safer design wherein the wheels have equal sizes. A chain drive was also added. There were also improvements introduced in other parts of the bikes, such as brakes and wheels.

Of Patents and Improvements

Patents and Improvements

In discussing the history of the bicycle, it is also important that we take a look at some of the patents and improvements that have been introduced following the initial design.

It was in 1879 when the bicyclette was patented by Henry J. Lawson. It was the first to have a chain-driven mechanism as its safety feature.

In 1889, the patent for tandem bicycles was issued to Herbert Owen and William Starley.

Meanwhile, the folding bike patent was first granted to Michael Ryan in 1894.

In 1933, the first cruiser bike was invented by Schwinn. Today, the company remains one of the most popular names in the global market for bikes.

The mountain bike, on the other hand, was introduced in 1979 by John Breeze.

As early as 1989, there were already versions of an electric bike. Sanyo Encale released on that is powered by NiCd batteries.

Wrap Up

Now that you have reached the end of this post, we hope that you were able to learn a thing or two about the history of bicycle. No single person can be credited for the current design. Rather, it is a result of a series of iterations and improvements, all of which are geared towards providing a better and safe experience to the users.