The Evolution Of The Bicycle

The History Of Bikes


Source: Kristoffer Trolle

“Bikes at Frederiksberg Allé, Denmark” by Kristoffer Trolle is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By: Isaiah Efrem, Reporter

Back then not many people were able to have freedom of motion because they weren’t rich enough to afford steam carriages. Sure they could go on trains because the tickets were affordable but it doesn’t let them get to an exact location they would like to be at. It doesn’t get them the freedom or range or choice. That’s where bikes come in. Bikes were affordable and could get people from place to place without being as tired as walking there. It was faster too! During the time period between 1816 and 1818 Scottish, German, and French manufacturers were making primitive bicycles. Primitive bicycles or Velocipede were kind of like the bikes that you see for very little kids nowadays where their are no pedals and you just have to push off with your feet and glide. Then in 1839 a Scottish maker named Macmillan built his hobbyhorse bike. This bike had pedals that operated the back wheel to go forward just like most bikes today. At this time the idea of pedals on bikes didn’t catch on until 1866. In 1866 the pedals were on the front wheel like modern day tricycles. It was at this point that bicycles became very popular. Their was a problem with this bike though. The front wheel of the bike was HUGE and each turn of the pedal would move it very far… too far. So far that the bike was considered dangerous but everyone was using it! The bike was nicknamed penny-farthing because its wheels looked like large and small coins.

“Penny Farthing – In Explore # 9 — June 3, 2014 — Tour de l’Île de Montréal” by Len Radin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This bike stayed in style until 1885 when the “safety bicycle” came to take the throne. The safety bicycle is the modern bicycle that you see most people using today with two equal sized wheels. Remember the hobby-horse? The bike that Macmillan made? Well turns out it did catch on because the modern bikes we use now was very much alike with Macmillan’s. So that’s how we came to use bikes the way we use them now. Because the people who couldn’t afford automobiles or steam powered machines just wanted a little freedom to go wherever they wanted.