Cycling has had a long and illustrious history. But it wasn’t always that way. How well do you know your sport if you love to ride? Just how far has the bike you ride today come?
Explore how the bike everyone knows and loves came to be about with this brief history of bikes through the ages.
Bikes Through The Ages
An unverified sketch, supposedly from 1493, was attributed to Gian Giacomo Caprotti, a pupil of Leonardo Da Vinci. However the first usable bicycle belonged to the German Karl Von Drais who invented the Draisine in 1817.
The Draisine was a heavy wood and brass cycle that was pushed along the ground by foot, as opposed to with a pedal. However the inability to control it led to many accidents and some city authorities began to make its use illegal, however it could still be seen up until 1866.
The French built the first popular and commercially successful design. It was developed in 1863 and was a craze during 1868-1870. It had pedals and could be propelled at speed. It coined the term “bone shaker” because its rigid frame and iron-banded wheels resulted in a “bone shaking experience for riders.”
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This then led into what is possibly the most famous historical bike, the Penny-Farthing. This bike had one huge and one small wheel, which allowed the bike to travel at much greater speeds. However with increased speed came increased dangers. In fact the Penny-Farthing was one of the most dangerous bicycles. The rider was high up in the air and if they hit a bad spot in the road they could easily be thrown off and injured. It was relatively easy for riders to be thrown over the handlebars. Adventurous young men found the danger appealing. Elderly men preferred tricycles or quadricycles, while women’s fashion of the day made the bike inaccessible.
The Safety Bicycle
In the 1880s and 1890s the development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bike as it crucially shifted the perception of the bicycle to being an everyday form of transportation for both sexes. This feature was caused by the introduction of the chains that are so common on nowadays bikes.
This formula proved to be a winner and imitations of the safety bike stuck around for the next century. In the 1970s the BMX bike was invented, and in 1980 the Mountain Bike became popular.
The Modern Bike
The 21st century has seen a vast improvement upon that basic safety bike formula with the application of technology to the basic bike mould. Principles of aerodynamics, stability, manufacturing and physics have all improved the bicycle immeasurably. In addition to becoming more safe and accessible, over time bike design has definitely become more stylish than its predecessors.
From a specialist extreme sport that only men could use, to a universally accepted mode of transport that is popular amongst both sexes, the history of the bicycle has truly come a long way. These days retailers such as 99 Bikes sell cycles in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes.
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