Search This Blog

Sunday, 26 August 2012



The bicycle evolved from a tiny wooden horse with a front wheel that was invented in France in the 1790s. The design was improved in 1817, by Baron Karl von Drais, who developed the steerable front wheel.

The world’s first pedal bicycle was made by a Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan (d1878) of Keir Mill, Dumfriesshire in 1839. His novel design for the first time enabled cyclists to ride with both their feet continuously off the ground. The popular bicycle of the time, the Hobby Horse, only provided momentum through the swinging of the riders feet back and forth. Macmillan never patented his idea and it was therefore widely copied.

During the four years Macmillan was developing his new machine, he travelled through the country lanes of his home district. Macmillan, who was known locally as 'Daft Pate', was able to attain speeds up to 14 mph and, to the dismay of drivers and passengers, on many occasions he overtook the local stage-coach.

In June 1842 Macmillan decided to visit his brother in Glasgow on his bicycle, a distance of 68 miles. However when he reached the Gorbals he knocked down a little girl who ran across his path and he was fined 5 Scots shillings for speeding at 8 mph. The magistrate initially declared that the highways of Britain had to be kept free of speedsters of his kind but later modified his opinions after the young inventor had shown him his contraption and is said to have slipped him the money for the fine.

Further advance in the evolution of the cycle was made, once again, in France, when E. Michaux, of Paris began to construct the original "boneshaker" in 1865. This was designed by Pierre Lallement, a mechanic employed by Michaux's firm. Its main feature was that the front wheel (larger than the rear wheel) was driven by a crank, fixed on its axle. The wheels themselves were still made of wood, but had iron tyres.

The horsecycle was patented in 1869. It was a bicycle that looked like a horse; and supposedly it wouldn't scare horses that you met along the road.

The first US national bicycle society was formed in Newport, Rhode Island in 1880. It was known as the League of American Wheelman.

The Briton John Kemp Stanley’s Rover safety bicycle, which he patented in 1885, was the prototype of a design that survives with few modifications today. It turned cycling, which had been something of an extreme sport on the old penny-farthings, into a safe form of mass transportation.

The pneumatic tyre was first successfully applied to the bicycle in 1888. As a result bicycles are a lot cheaper and affordable to most people. The inventor, John Boyd Dunlop fought a legal battle against Robert William Thomson to patent the tyre. 

Between 1888-1930 UK cyclists were obliged by law to ring their bells non-stop on a public highway.

  Photo by Les Gosden

The renowned 19th-century US feminist Susan B Anthony said in an interview in 1896: "I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." 

Mark Twain first learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 55.

For his 11th birthday, Elvis Presley asked for a bicycle. Instead, his father bought him a guitar.


The longest “tandem” bike that's ever been built was over 20 meters long and seated 35 people.

The longest bicycle in the world was built by Santos and University of South Australia, who created a (135 ft 10.7 in (41.42 m) long bicycle in Adelaide, Australia in 2016.

In Tokyo, a bicycle is faster than a car for most trips of less than 50 minutes.

There are more bicycles in the world than motor cars.

About 400 million of the world’s one billion bicycles are in China.

Beijing is considered to the bicycle capital of the world as it has many parking lots dedicated to bikes alone. 

The Netherlands has 16.77 million people and 18 million bicycles.

There are bicycle hotels throughout Norway, where, for a small monthly fee, cyclists can safely store their bikes indoors while at work.

There are more than 96,000 bicycle-related patents at the European Patent Office. These include about 20 devices allowing a cyclist to exercise a dog while riding the bike.

Six percent of Americans don’t know how to ride a bike.

Here's a list of songs inspired by bicycles.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Daily Express.

No comments:

Post a Comment