A brief history of bicycling

The dandy horse, also called Draisienne or laufmaschine, was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais. It is regarded as the modern bicycle’s forerunner; Drais introduced it to the public in Mannheim in summer 1817 and in Paris in 1818. Its rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with his/her feet while steering the front wheel. The 1860s captured the realease of Velocipede or Boneshaker – a two-wheeled bicycle with pedals and cranks on the front wheel. It was known as the bone shaker because the combination of a wood frame and metal tires made for a very uncomfortable ride over cobblestone streets. See what happened next on the list:

  • 1870s—High-wheeled bicycle: One of the first models to be called a ‚bicycle‘ (after its two wheels). The high wheel allowed the rider to travel farther with a single rotation of the pedals. Moreover, a metal frame and rubber tires provided a more comfortable ride than the boneshaker.
  • 1885—Rover Safety bicycle: Invented by John Kemp Starely, England; Featured a strong enough metal to make a chain, plus it had two same-sized wheels and a similar frame to today’s bicycles.
  • 1888—Pnuematic tires: Invented by John Boyd Dunlop, Ireland; Develops air-filled tires that provide a smoother ride than the previously used hard-rubber tires.
  • 1920s—Kid’s bicycles become popular.
  • 1940s—Built-in kickstands developed.
  • 1960s—Racing bicycles become popular and feature dropped handlebars, narrow tires, numerous speeds and a lighter frame.
  • 1980—Spurred by mountain biking and extreme sports, mountain bicycles become a popular consumer item and feature sturdier frames, larger wheels and flat handlebars.
  • 1996—Mountain bicycles appear in the Olympics.

It’s a long way from there to now. Seeing how bicycle develops through time, we know to appreciate what we are having to day and how society grows. Let spend some time to be thankful.

Lorenz Hübner



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