How the Bicycle Came Into Existence
Bicycle evolution comprises hundreds of years of constant development and innovation processes. The very first bike didn’t even have pedals and saddles but still had gained wide popularity in the British Empire and the nearest countries. This bike is called the Laufmaschine and was developed by a German professor and innovator – Karl von Drais who wanted to find a brand-new way of transportation after a few extremely cold years.
This period is called a «Year Without a Summer» that was caused by a massive eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies. It had caused massive hunger across the globe and the endemic fall of cattle and horses, most of which were eaten by hungry people. Karl’s Laufmaschine owed to solve the existing problems in the transportation sphere but his invention wasn’t perceived seriously by a wide public.
Later, attempts have been made in order to develop Karl’s idea of what a bicycle was meant to be. The Europeans were mostly poor in the terms of mobility since automobiles were not invented yet and live transport such as horses and carriages need a lot of care and fodder. Many people could not afford a horse or use it for long-distance traveling.
Karl’s Laufmaschine is the oldest bicycle and has shed light on this situation by introducing a brand-new and innovative mechanism that can carry a rider over long distances, not requiring fodder, serious maintenance, and service. But only further versions of Karl’s bike had gained wide popularity.
Pierre Lallement had made a huge improvement of the Kar’s running machine, adding pedals with chain and a saddle. His bike, called the velocipede, had gained wide popularity and was the first bicycle that was similar to modern bicycles.
But it had many disadvantages such as the absence of brakes, gears, and amortization. For many years, it remained replaced by a penny-farthing bicycle, also called a high-wheel bicycle because of its unusual construction. Eugène Meyer was a French innovator and avid bicyclist who developed a high-wheel bicycle that became an iconic symbol of the late Victorian epoch.
Penny-farthing bicycles had several feature characteristics that were new and innovative for then society. Firstly, penny-farthing bicycles included spoked wheels, invented by Eugène Meyer in place of previous, more fragile versions. Each spoke could be replaced individually.
The construction of a penny-farthing bicycle can amaze many but it has one significant advantage – its speed. Although penny-farthing bicycles were extremely unstable and unsafe, they were two times faster than most modern bicycles. Due to its construction, a penny-farthing bicycle was very unstable and could drop off its rider after every gouge.
Despite their disadvantages, penny-farthing bicycles became symbolical for then Europe and started the whole new era – the era of bicycles. Exactly from the times when penny-farthing bicycles became popular and widespread, bicycles began to be construed as something serious and reasonable.
Only in six years, a British inventor, J. K. Starley had developed his iconic Rover bicycle. The Rover safety bicycle had looked just as modern city bikes look and had similar technological characteristics. In general, city bikes haven’t changed a lot since the first safety bikes were invented and introduced on the market.
Since the exploitation of penny-farthing bicycles became unnecessary due to the presence of many other safer models, bicycles became extremely popular and available for everyone. Not so many people were brave enough to use penny-farthing bicycles but Starley’s rover bicycle had shown a new way of how bicycles could look and be.
The evolution of the bicycle is a long and complicated process and we don’t know a lot about the pre-war bicycle era, so for us, it remains covered with conundrums and romanticism of the Victorian epoch. Bicycles became an integral part of our society and had entertained even the highest personas in our world. For example, even the Russian Emperor – Nicolai II often enjoyed bicycle promenades along with others high and mighties.
We can learn a lot about modern bikes and the cycling world if we look deeper into bicycle evolution and the history of its discovery.
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