The bicycle has been one of the most fascinating inventions by man. It is known for its agility and practicality and has been improved drastically since the time it was invented. Today, bicycles are used for transportation, recreation and commuting purposes. The earliest bicycle to be invented was during early 19th century. At that time, the bicycle was a crude structure, with no rubber tyres, no proper saddle, paddles or even brakes for that matter! From that time, bicycles have been worked upon and the modern day bicycles are a proof of it. Given here is some interesting information on the history and origin of the bicycle.
Interesting Information on the Background of Bicycle
The first documented bicycle that was introduced in the early 19th century was the Draisines or hobby horses. It was built by a German named Baron Karl von Drais and was introduced in Paris in the year 1818. In this crude structure, an individual sat on a wooden frame that was supported by two in-line wheels. The person had to push the vehicle with his feet and steer the front wheel. In the later half of the 19th century, a new dimension was added to the existing machine. In the 1860s, Frenchmen named Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement added a mechanical crank drive with pedals on an enlarged front wheel.
After that, came a series of inventions that concentrated on the back wheel, which included the rod-driven velocipede by Scotsman Thomas McCall in 1869. This creation was made of wood and iron and developed into ‘penny farthing’ or the ordinary bicycle. It featured a tubular steel frame on which were mounted, wire spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. However, it failed because the rear wheel was too big as compared to the tiny front wheel and the weight distribution was poor. A fall from the bicycle ensured that you landed head first on solid ground and also broke your nose!
After that, came the dwarf cycle, which corrected a few of these faults and reducing the rear wheel diameter and also added gearing in order to attain sufficient speed. However, paddling and steering the front wheel still was a problem. This was solved by J. K. Starley, J. H. Lawson and Shergold who introduced the concept of chain drive, which connected the paddles with the frame and the back wheel. Since they were safer as compared to their previous counterparts, these bicycles came to be known as dwarf safeties or safety bicycles.
The bicycle introduced in the year 1885, known as Starley's 1885 Rover, is considered to be the prototype of the modern bicycle. The seat height was adjusted, there was better weight distribution, the seat tube was added and it created the double-triangle diamond frame of the modern bike. Further innovations focused on increased comfort and safety of the rider. John Boyd Dunlop developed the pneumatic tire in the year 1888 and it became the universal norm for every kind of vehicle, including bicycle.
The rear wheel was refined and the free rear wheel was introduced. This invention enabled the rider to coast and led to the invention of coater bikes in the year 1898. The derailleur gears and hand-operated cable-pull brakes came next, which were slowly adopted by riders. By the early 20th century, the bicycle was developed into a fine shape and was one of the most popular modes of transport, touring and even racing.