The first forms of bicycles emerged in the early 19th century. They were commonly called “velocipedes”. They were pedalless, wooden contraptions with hard wheels. The rider sat on a chair and used his legs to propel himself.
It was not until the last years of the 1830s that pedal-powered bicycles were introduced. Then came those big bicycles on wheels that we’ve seen in old photos. They were called “High Wheelers” and were the style of the time for men.
Riding one of these big-wheel bicycles through the cities of the time was dangerous. They were not very well placed to ride and a little difficult to hold upright. If the ride didn’t get you a little rough, the fall certainly would. They are nicknamed “bone shakers” for a reason.
This changed with the invention of the safety bicycle. A gentleman named John Kemp Starley is said to have made the first successful example in 1885. He called it the “Rover,” but he never patented it.
What are the health benefits of cycling?
Starley’s innovative plans incorporate some of the elements we know today. It had two wheels of the same size: a chain drive to the rear wheel and a steerable front wheel.
In previous cycles, the frame was heavy and mostly made of wood. The introduction of lighter metals and the diamond frame design made them lighter. This single change allowed for the addition of the respective other innovations.
Previously, the rider’s pedalling activity was applied to the front wheel. This made it difficult to power the bike and it was more prone to accidents. A chain drive at the rear wheel made it easier for the rider to pedal. Turning street corners and other manoeuvres became easier, and the bike was considered safer.
With the improvement of pneumatic tires, the riders of the time found it more comfortable. The days of hard rubber or wooden wheels are long gone. These modern wheels were lighter and offered a significantly improved, cushioned ride.
The cycling frenzy hit Europe and North America in the mid-to late 1800s. Both the middle class and the elite were eager to get involved in this wild mode of travel. Cycling clubs sprang up all over Europe and in the United States. Cycling was not only a sporting leisure activity, but it also became a vital form of personal transportation. Women,
In particular, it brought the rows of cyclists together in great numbers. Before these changes to the bicycle, women were not allowed to ride. There was a question about the dangers and possible moral implications of a woman riding a bicycle. For a time, young single women, even with the safety features, could ride alone in the company of an older, respected woman.
European countries used the bicycle for transportation and leisure well into the early 20th century. In some areas in Europe, there are many more bicycles than cars today. They are preferred in larger urban areas where parking is limited and traffic is unmanageable. And, perhaps best of all, they are extremely efficient and cause no pollution.
American settlers, on the other hand, did not follow in the footsteps of the Europeans. By the 1910s, adult bicycles were being replaced by automobiles. While they are still used by some, they are not nearly as popular as they once were. In the 1940s, the attitude towards cycling was that it was a child’s toy. Most of it was made for children.
Cycles are making a comeback in these times of high fuel prices. Bicycles are a very efficient means of transport. The added benefit of a healthier body encourages more people to drive. People who have not cycled for more than twenty years cycle to work or shop.
Some of these industrious people even build their own bicycles. From a standard safety bike to tandem bikes and trikes, it’s something almost anyone can build. When you build your own bike, you select the design and tailor it to your own needs. It’s also a fun way to spend time with the kids. And after you’ve built a few bikes, it’s great to try them out!
Is there a difference between cycling and cycling?
The bike has come a long way since the first attempts. Now, bicycles are made of lighter, stronger materials. Manufacturers offer a wide variety of designs based on specific applications. They are designed for safety and comfort and are faster than ever before. Accessories such as children’s carts make it easy to take the kids on a bike ride or to stop for some shopping.
In my next bike article, I’ll talk about the different bike designs out there and how to build your own. In the meantime, go cycling!
“Vin” KLVin Hayes leads a team of independent writers and researchers. They have collaborated for the past ten years to create high-quality digital reprints of vintage books and documents, as well as original works. Vin has a lot of experience with information on a wide variety of things, such as fishing and hunting, crafts and hobbies, construction, self-improvement, and more.