How the Modern Day Bicycle Came to Be
As a cycling lover, you have probably wondered a little about bicycle history. The question of who invented the bicycle is in debate. Some people believe that Pierre and Ernest Michaux invented the bicycle in the 1860s. However, there is reason to believe that the bicycle is even older than that. In fact, many historians credit German inventor Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn with the invention of the early bicycle in the early 1800s. His invention was called the Laufmaschine. It was made of wood and could only be propelled by the rider pushing his or her feet against the ground.
Sauerbronn’s invention sparked interest the interest of a number of British cart makers who worked at refining the idea. This led to the creation of the hobby horse by Denis Johnson in 1819. The bicycle featured a serpentine frame which allowed larger wheels to be used. Riders still had to propel the bicycle with their feet but it became a very popular pastime in London for about a year. After a few forays into tricycles and quadracycles, the first mechanically propelled 2 wheel bicycle created in bicycle history was made by Kirkpatrick MacMillan in 1839. However, the first commercially successful bicycle, called the velocipede, was developed in France in 1863 and featured rotary cranks and pedals that were set on the front wheel.
The velocipede was the first mass produced bike in bicycle history and became very popular in Paris. It was around 1866 that the pedal bicycle was developed, although the exact identity of the inventor is being debated. Pierre Lallement is generally credited as a patent for his invention was filed in the USA in 1866. As with most things that have monetary potential, a pair of entrepreneurs, Aime and Rene Olivier adopted the machine and began manufacturing it. The resulting bicycle craze supported the development and refinement of the velocipede until the Franco-Prussian war destroyed the market.
The bicycle continued to undergo development leading to the invention of the high bicycle in by Eugene Meyer. By 1877, these bicycles were being imported into the New World by way of Boston. It didn’t take off and become the favorite pastime of millions of Americans until the late 1800s when the safety bicycle was developed which provided for a smoother, safer ride. By the beginning of the 1900s, it was the main form of transportation for both men and women. Since then, the bicycle has evolved into several different forms to please the riding preferences of bikers which include the recumbent bike, mountain bike, hybrid bikes, and BMX bikes. Over 57 million people ages 16 and over enjoy riding bicycles every year.
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