|The bicycle was invented in the 1880's. The original bike had the large wheel in front and the smaller wheel in back. After a few years of debating, they decided that women should ride tricycles instead of the regular two wheeled bike. They made this change because riding the other kind of bike was very difficult to ride with a long skirt. Women started to wear short skirts but commentators thought it was threatening to womens morals. and reputation. So 1889 they invented a bicycle that had two wheels of equal size so that it was suitable for everybody.|
THE STORY OF THE CREATION of the bicycle is a wonderful reflection of human creativity and folly.
Opinions about bicycles have ranged from a Baltimore minister's 1896 ravings describing the bicycle as "a diabolical device of the demon of darkness... imbued with a wild and Satanic nature", to the claims of health-cultists in the 1800s that the bicycle was the cure-all for the human race. Regardless of diverse opinion, the bicycle has persevered to become a part of the lives and hearts of countless millions of people world wide, not to mention a huge thriving industry.
Historians will never be able to pinpoint the exact moment the bicycle was created. Tomb paintings from ancient Egypt suggest a distant ancestor of the bicycle. Some researchers maintain that sketches of bicycles can be seen among the frescoes of Pompeii. A drawing purportedly by Leonardo da Vinci shows a remarkably modern bicycle, but is believed by many experts to be a hoax.
The French count Mede de Sivrac designed a vehicle in 1790 known as the celerifere or velocifere. The roots of his creation are found in a toy called a hobby horse, consisting of a stick with a horse's head on one end and sometimes a wheel on the other. De Sivrac's version for adult riders consisted of two equal-sized wheels joined by a wooden beam decorated to resemble a horse or a lion. This machine was pushed in a manner sure to provoke giggles since the rider moved the pedal-less celerifere forward by essentially running along the ground. The celerifere had serious design flaws, most notably the lack of a steering mechanism and brakes. Dashing young men gathered in French parks, including Versailles, to race these whimsical creations.
Meanwhile, Baron Karl von Drais of Karlsruhe, Germany, was at work improving the design of the velocifere for use as transportation on his employer's country estate. His version became known as the Draisienne, and featured a brilliantly designed front wheel that pivoted on the frame, thus enabling the machine to turn corners. He also eliminated the decorative prow-like representation of an animal head, which greatly reduced the weight factor. In 1818, he took his Draisienne to Paris and actually sold quite a few.
His sales pitch emphasized that on good roads his Draisiennes traveled as fast as eight to nine miles an hour, the same speed as a trotting horse. As early as 1818, the desire for good paths and roads had emerged among cyclists, though riders were still running along the ground pushing their bikes while seated.
Over time these early bicycles became known as "hobby horses" or "dandy horses" in reference to their high prices. Even King George IV of England and his royal court discovered that hobby horses were great entertainment on a sunny afternoon. Denis Johnson, a coachmaker in Covent Garden, England, patented his own version of the hobby horse in 1818, undoubtedly inspired by the Draisienne. Johnson proceeded to open a riding school in London, where gentlemen of breeding were instructed in the fine art of riding these new contraptions.
London quickly banned Johnson's hobby horses because cyclists traveled so quickly that they were disruptive and dangerous among the horse traffic of city streets. Outside the city, clergymen used the new machines to visit their parishioners and postmen delivered mail on Johnson's hobby horse.
The period from about 1820 to 1865 was full of experimentation aimed at improving the machine. Pierre Michaux and his son Ernest are credited with inventing key components of the modern bicycle in 1861; they attached pedals directly to the front axle thereby necessitating a large front wheel for ease of pedaling. By 1868 the Michaux factory in France had 30 employees working at a furious pace to produce five pedal-style machines a day. A reporter for Orchestra magazine praised the quality of these machines, and wrote that Michaux's machines were "models of perfection, but they cost as much as a horse."
Some of the inventions of the period certainly look ridiculous to our modern eyes. One bizarre 1839 vehicle was called "Mr. Baddeley's Manumotive Exercising Carriage". The rider sat between two six-foot-tall wheels, with a smaller wheel out front. It was pedaled and steered with hand cranks, an early experiment that reflected the controversy of whether hand or foot power was more efficient.
Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a blacksmith from Scotland, developed a bicycle in 1839 with a decidedly modern look to it. In fact, his was arguably the first modern bicycle, since it is the first surviving two-wheeled machine that a rider could power without having to touch the ground. MacMillan combined three modern design elements: two smallish wheels with the rider seated between them, a back wheel driven by cranks and a front wheel that was used to steer the bicycle. Still, the drawbacks remained; these machines all bounced, rattled, broke and were hard to steer and stop. Without an efficient pedaling system, bad roads, steep hills and nasty weather put a real damper on the widespread acceptance of this blossoming form of transportation.
In the 1890s, two main types of cycles were being produced, each with its die-hard adherents. The first and older vehicles were originally called bicycles. The front tire stood head-tall to a man, followed by a small rear tire. The seat was mounted chest-high, and required athletic ability and a certain air of derring-do to mount and dismount. These gained the nickname of penny-farthing, from the tire sizes' resemblance to the largest and smallest English copper coins of the time.
The second type of vehicle vying for the allegiance of riders was a newer invention with two equal-sized wheels. As these new cycles grew in popularity, they eventually commandeered the name bicycle, and the penny-farthing became known as 'the Ordinary'. Races were often held between bicycles and Ordinaries and all accounts report that the competitions were fierce.
In the 1870s, James Starley became known in England as the father of the bicycle industry. In 1870 he began manufacturing penny-farthing bicycles. In 1885, at the Coventry Machinist's Company in England, James Starley's nephew John Kemp Starley built his famous Rover, which had all the major features of today's bikes. The 50-pound Rover had two wheels of medium size, with the rear wheel pedal-powered by chains and sprockets. The wheels were connected by a triangular frame that became known as the diamond frame. This machine's superior safety and speed spearheaded the defeat of the Ordinary. Eventually the high wheel was abandoned completely and the modern bike triumphed.
Though strikingly modern in design, these bicycles still deserved their nickname of "boneshakers". A gigantic advance for the comfort of the rider was the invention of pneumatic tires. Originally patented in 1845 in England by R.W. Thompson, pneumatic tires were first applied to a bicycle in 1888. John Boyd Dunlop, practicing as a veterinary surgeon in Belfast, fitted a rubber hose to his son's tricycle, and filled this tire with compressed air. Dunlop patented the pneumatic tire on 23 July 1888 and began limited production. Two years later solid rubber bicycle tires had disappeared from use, and by 1892 Dunlop was a millionaire.
The coaster brake was an essential safety development and was available on most bikes being built around 1898. This new brake easily slowed down the bicycle - no longer did the cyclist have to leap off of a moving bicycle merely to stop. Lights and bells were additional safety accessories that quickly gained wide use. Training wheels, rearview mirrors and a lock patented by Yale and Towne Manufacturing were also widely available. In the 1890s, 500 factories were dedicated to making bicycle accessories and by 1896 it is estimated that Americans spent over $200 million on bicycle accessories and $300 million for bicycles.
Bicycling also had a permanent and beneficial effect on the struggle of women for equal opportunity. In 1896, Susan B. Anthony said that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world." As bicycles surged in popularity, women naturally began to ride them. While many argued that cycling wasn't ladylike, in Northern Wheeler of 22 February 1893, a supporter wrote, "Woman has taken her stand, and her seat in the saddle. I am tolerably certain that the net result will be that woman will take her true position as man's equal."
Bicycling gained respectability as society people began riding. Members of European royal circles took up bicycling early on. Bicycling became the rage in Europe and in the US in the 1890s. There are estimates of 10 million bicycles in use in the US by the 1890s.
In the words of Ron Ige, editor of Bike Magazine, "Like all aspects of life today, technology has advanced the bicycle far beyond the high wheelers of the past. This amazing growth curve has sparked renewed interest in all forms of cycling." The future for the bicycle looks unlimited as inventors continue to tinker with and improve these beloved machines.
The advent of the bicycle in the 1880’s stimulated great controversy about women’s proper role in society. Questions of "how they should ride", when they should ride, who they should ride with" were considered by commentators, and"wheeling’s" many critics were certain that bicycle riding threatened women’s health, morals, and reputation. Critics opposed wearing union suits (to absorb perspiration) or bloomers, and worried about the privacy and potential liberty bicycling granted to young men and women. Physicians Thomas Lothrop and William Poter posited that the bicycle inevitably promoted immodesty in women, and could potentially harm their reproductive systems. Other critics argued that women bicyclists favored shorter skirts, thus "inviting" insults and advances. Moreover, by tilting the bicycle seat, they could "beget of foster the habit of masturbation". For advocates like Maria E. Ward, however, "The bicycle (was) an educational factor . . . creating the desire for progress, the preference for what is better, the striving for the best, broadening the intelligence and intensifying love of home and country.
Before such noble attributes could be encouraged by "the wheel", change in dress or the design of bicycles was necessary. Skirts made riding the Ordinary (a bicycle with a large front wheel) virtually impossible. Tricycles, however, were designed to accommodate full skirts and allowed women to ride without adopting the bloomer outfit, which many women opposed for its politically radical associations. Like nearly every other aspect of life in the nineteenth century, tricycle riding had a specific set of rules and regulations. The rule against women riding alone in fact generated a new profession: the professional lady cyclist as chaperone. Tricycles were commonly used for touring, and the tandem tricycle was popular with couples.