The history of bicycles http://www.eriding.net/media/vintage_bicycles.shtml http://www.eriding.net/media/StreetLife.shtml Many of you will have a bicycle at home. Some of you will have several bicycles that belong to different members of your family. What did bicycles look like in the past? How are they different to yours?
It was made of wood with a wooden frame and wooden wheels but there were no pedals and no brakes. There was a handle fixed to the front wheel which was used to steer. The Walking Machine In 1817 Baron von Drais invented a walking machine that would help him get around the royal gardens faster. The machine became known as the Hobby Horse. It wasnt very good on bumpy ground and it was very hard work to make it move because it had to be moved by using your legs as though you were running. To make it stop you had to use your feet. It wasnt easy to ride a Hobby Horse! A lot of people laughed at it. They were sure that it would fall over and thought it was a very silly idea.
The Velocipede or Boneshaker In 1865 another two-wheeled riding machine was invented. It was called the velocipede ("fast foot"), but was known as the Bone Shaker. Can you guess why? A blacksmith called Mr Macmillan had the clever idea of putting pedals on the front wheel so that instead of having to push the bike along with your feet, you could pedal it along. The bike was much faster than the Hobby Horse and people liked it but if you wanted to stop, you had to pedal backwards! The wheels were still made of wood but to stop them wearing out they put a metal strip round the wheels to protect them. The roads were very rough and bumpy in those days. Sometimes there was only a muddy track with lots of pot holes. This meant that it was very uncomfortable to ride on, especially over cobblestone roads. It shook your bones and that was why it was called a bone shaker!
The Penny Farthing In 1870 the first all metal machine appeared. The pedals were still attached to the front wheel but it had solid rubber tyres that made it much more comfortable to ride than the boneshaker. It had a big wheel at the front and a small wheel at the back. You had to sit on top of the big wheel and it was very high up! There was a little step above the back wheel to help you get on. This machine was called a Penny Farthing because the front wheel was like an old penny and the back wheel was like an old farthing. It was very popular with rich young men but was too expensive for ordinary people because it cost all the money most people would earn for six months work! It was much faster but was very dangerous. If you went over a bump in the road or had to stop quickly, you would be thrown over the handlebars so there were lots of accidents.
Ladies didnt ride bikes in those days because they had long skirts that would get caught in the spokes and also because people thought it was wrong that ladies should ride bikes! Penny Farthings were ridden by men, sometimes they even raced them. Postmen used them to deliver letters but some people were afraid of the Penny Farthings and believed that they would make humans change shape! They wanted to get rid of the big front wheel and to make both wheels the same size so they could sit on the seat and still touch the ground with their feet. Eventually someone realised that the Penny Farthings were too dangerous and decided that what people needed was a bike that was safer and much easier to get on.
The Safety Bike About 100 years ago the first modern bikes were invented and they called them Safety Bikes because they were much safer to ride. Safety bikes had air filled rubber tyres so they were much more comfortable. They didnt have gears because gears still hadnt been invented but they did have a chain attached to the back wheel. People liked to cycle into the countryside on their days off and it meant that they could travel further. For the first time ladies could ride bicycles although to begin with people thought they shouldnt be allowed to!
At first women were only allowed to ride tricycles but by the end of the 1890s they rode bicycles with a string or mesh guard over the back wheel to stop their long skirts getting caught in the spokes and of course to ensure their modesty by keeping their legs covered up!
About 70 years ago bicycles became much cheaper so that ordinary people could afford one. Bikes have changed a lot over the last hundred years, not only in how they look but also what materials are used to make them. Click to see some of the different types of bikes that have been made over the years. Click here for Link to 1920s adverts on one page the Recumbent Bicycle 1930s A Moulton small-wheeled bike 1962 BMX 2006 Raleigh Chopper bike 1970