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First Bicycle – When was the First Bicycle Invented?

After several models of simple bicycles and velocipedes, a true revolution in bicycle history happened during early 1860s. Two French carriage makers Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement improved design of then popular “daisy horse” and added mechanical crank drive with pedals on it. That moment is considered today as the most important moment in bicycle history.

Picture Of Draisine From 1817

Pierre Lallement was born on October 25, 1483 in Pont-à-Mousson, France. From his early life he worked with his father blacksmith and since 1862, he alone worked on building various types of small baby carriages. During that time in Nancy, France, he saw then popular Dandy Horse velocipede in use. He and his blacksmith partner Pierre Michaux begun formulating idea to include some kind of mechanical apparatus on it that would greatly improve the driving experience. Some historians are claiming that Pierre Michaux’s son Exnest was the first one who came to the idea of pedals. Their initial design was made from metal frame that enabled easy mass production and creation of several elegant designs. One of the major differences of that bicycle concerning todays was the larger front wheel that hosted the pedals and the wooden wheels. In those times transmission via chains and pneumatic tires were not yet invented, and in England public soon started calling this bikes “boneshakers”.

In 1864, Pierre Michaux collaborated with Olivier brothers (Aimé, René, and Marius) who were the first to offer monetary investment for mass production of bicycles. Between 1867 and 1869, Europe was in full blown “bicycle craze” and their business boomed especially in France and England. After severing their partnership Michaux in 1869, Olivier brother’s manufacturing came to a stop when demand for bicycles came to a sudden stop in USA and France (who by that time entered in Franco-Prussian war). Some historians claim that USA failed to become popular bicycle country because of poor road conditions and several patent disputes that halted any attempt of mass production. Popularity of “boneshaker” remained unchanged only in England. It was there that all future bicycle improvements happened.

“Boneshaker” continued to live during 1870s in the form of high-wheel bicycle called “penny-farthing”. One major difference between them was drastically bigger front wheel and very small rear wheel. That configuration enabled driver to drive much faster then before, but it introduced higher element of danger – braking during high speeds was much more harder, fall from bike created much larger injuries, and there was constant possibility of injury from much heavier bicycle frame. Risk of such injuries ensured that only small percentage of England’s population ever used such a device (usually younger adventurous males). Older population and women much more preferred configurations with three or four wheels. They provided much more stable ride and improved comfort.

The Englishman John Kemp Starley produced final variation of “boneshaker” in 1885. His “safety bicycle” created much-needed shift in public perception of bicycles. Exactly as in today’s bicycle, it included chain based drive that powered the rear wheel. During the same time


Who Invented the Bicycle? | Live Science

You might think that an invention as simple as the bicycle would have an uncomplicated past. But as it turns out, this highly popular invention has a history fraught with controversy and misinformation. While stories about who invented the bicycle often contradict one another, there’s one thing that’s certain — the very first bicycles were nothing like the ones you see cruising down the street today. 

The first known iterations of a wheeled, human-powered vehicle were created long before the bicycle became a practical form of transportation. In 1418, an Italian engineer, Giovanni Fontana (or de la Fontana), constructed a human-powered device consisting of four wheels and a loop of rope connected by gears, according to the International Bicycle Fund (IBF).

In 1813, about 400 years after Fontana built his wheeled contraption, a German aristocrat and inventor named Karl von Drais began work on his own version of a Laufmaschine (running machine), a four-wheeled, human-powered vehicle. Then in 1817, Drais debuted a two-wheeled vehicle, known by many names throughout Europe, including Draisienne, dandy horse and hobby horse. 

Curious contraptions

Drais built his machine in response to a very serious problem — a dearth of real horses. In 1815, Mount Tambora, in Indonesia, erupted and the ash cloud dispersed around the world a lowered global temperatures. Crops failed and animals, including horses, died of starvation, according to Smithsonian magazine. 

Drais’ hobby horses were a far cry from the aerodynamic speed machines that are today’s bicycles. Weighing in at 50 lbs. (23 kilograms), this bicycle ancestor featured two wooden wheels attached to a wooden frame. Riders sat on an upholstered leather saddle nailed to the frame and steered the vehicle with a rudimentary set of wooden handlebars. There were no gears and no pedals, as riders simply pushed the device forward with their feet.

Drais took his invention to France and to England, where it became popular. A British coach maker named Denis Johnson marketed his own version, called “pedestrian curricles,” to London’s pleasure-seeking aristocrats. Hobby horses enjoyed several years of success before they were banned from sidewalks as a danger to pedestrians. The fad passed, and by the 1820s, the vehicles were rarely seen, according to the National Museum of American History (NMAH).

Drawing from an 1887 German encyclopedia of various velocipedes, penny-farthings and other human-powered vehicles. (Image credit: Public domain.)

Bone shakers and penny-farthings

Bicycles made a comeback in the early 1860s with the introduction of a wooden contraption with two steel wheels, pedals and a fixed gear system. Known as a velocipede (fast foot) or a “bone shaker,” the brave users of this early contraption were in for a bumpy ride.

The question of who invented the velocipede, with its revolutionary pedals and gear system, is a bit murky. A German named Karl Kech claimed that he was the first to attach pedals to a hobby horse in 1862. But the first patent for such a device was granted not to Kech but to Pierre Lallement, a French carriage