student of Leonardo da Vinci, named Giacomo Caprotti, created the original
design for a bicycle. But a Frenchman named Monsieur Sivrac in the 1790s
created the first bicycle. It was called the Célérifère (say-lay-ri-fair).
It had no pedals, so you had to use feet to ride it. It also had no handlebars, so you couldn’t steer
it. You would have to go straight. It was made out of wood.
The next step in bicycle evolution was the Laufmaschine. It was also known as the Draisienne and the Hobby Horse. A German man named Baron von Drais made it in 1817. Unlike the Célérifère, it had the ability to steer.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan created the first bicycle with pedals in 1839. You would push the pedals back and forth which turned the wheel.
In the early 1860s, a Frenchman named Pierre Lallement made the velocipede. It had two steel wheels. The one in front was slightly larger than the other. Its pedals were connected to the front wheel, so when you pedaled, the front wheel would rotate pulling the back one with it.
Bicycles with high wheels were very popular in the late 1800s. In 1871, the high wheel bicycle was invented; it was the first bicycle to be called a bicycle. They were the first all metal bicycle, because up to that date, light metal parts could not be made strong enough. They had one big wheel in the front and one small wheel in the back. They ran a lot more smoothly than bicycles before it but were a lot more dangerous. If you hit a rock or rut or sometimes even by applying the brakes, you would fly over the handlebars of your bike.
For the women with long skirts and dresses and the better dressed men, there was the tricycle. The tricycle was a three-wheeled machine that worked just like the bicycle only it was safer. However, it was harder to steer on turns. They were made in the 1880’s.
To make the high-wheeled bicycle safer, they switched the front and back wheels around, putting the smaller wheel in front and the larger wheel in back. This design made the bicycle less likely to tip forward. These bicycles were known as high wheel safety bikes.
Safety bikes were the next step in bicycle evolution. With stronger metals available, they were able to make a small sprocket and chain that was light enough for a human being to power. The safety bike had two wheels the same size. In 1888, an Irish veterinarian named Dunlop, invented the pneumatic tire. These tires were a lot more comfortable to ride on. The pneumatic tire design was sometimes used on safety bikes.
In 1920, the kid’s bike was introduced. Since adults were riding in automobiles, the market needed someone to buy their bicycles.
The mountain bike was first mass-produced in the early 1980’s at a time when bicycling became popular for exercise and recreation.
Although the mechanics of bicycles have improved over time, the basic concept of this people-powered machine has stayed the same for hundreds of years.
Adams, G. Donald. “A Quick History of Bicycles.” Pedaling History Bicycle Museum. January 5, 2005. <http://www.pedalinghistory.com/PHbikbio.htm>.
Bellis, Mary. “Bicycle History.” About : Inventors. January 8, 2005. <http://inventors.about.com/inventors/blbicycle.htm>.
Lienard, John H. “Myths and Milestones in Bicycle Evolution.” Jim Langley: Bicycle Aficionado. January 8, 2005. <http://www.jimlangley.net/ride/bicyclehistory.html>.
Mozer, David. “Bicycle History (& Human Powered Vehicle History).” International Bicycle Fund. January 5, 2005. <http://www.ibike.org/library/historytimeline.htm>.
Photograph of high wheel bicycle has been released into the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.
Copyrighted clip art images of bicycles from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.
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