Bicycle Is A French Word From the 1860s

The first verifiable bicycle, the German Draisine, was invented around 1817. The rider balanced on its wooden frame, and propelled the Draisine (also known as a velocipede) along the road. An improved British version appeared in 1818, but riders boots wore out rapidly. This problem was solved by a French metalworker, who added pedals the velocipedes design, creating the basis for what people today would identify as a bicycle.

For A Period Bicycles Were Known As Bone-Shakers

Bicycle rides on early designs weren’t quite the same as they are today. Early models were still to iron out many design inefficiencies, leaving Britons and Americans to commonly refer to bicycles as Bone-Shakers due to the type of ride they offered the rider. This name predated the later addition of solid rubber tyres.

Dangerous Toys

Riding bicycles in the 1800s was usually the premise of daring young men. Bicycles could be dangerous, particularly the high-wheeled bicycles, such as the Penny-Farthing. While the large wheel allowed for additional speed, the height of the rider could mean serious accidents if the rider lost control. Breaking wrists or getting caught under the bicycle were not uncommon occurrences. It was not until the emergence of the safety bicycle in the late 1800s that bicycle transport became suitable to all.

The Golden Age of Bicycles

The period from the mid 1890s into the early 20th century is sometimes referred to using this name. Newer designs of bicycles now had equally sized wheels, with the front one being steerable. Better design also dramatically improved safety. The addition of pneumatic tyres added comfort. A rear wheel chain drive added speed. Mass production methods brought down costs, and bicycling as a means of transport and as a leisure activity flourished in America and Europe.

Emancipation of Women

Ever cheaper bicycles gave women mobility and independence. The restrictive clothing worn by women leading up to the turn of the century was impractical and cumbersome. Clothing developed that was practical for bicycle riding, freeing women from restrictive clothing. This change may have been brought about by the practical needs of bicycle riding, but eventually assisted in modernising women’s attire in general life.

It can be seen that the invention of the bicycle changed society dramatically. The bicycle developed from a dangerous novelty to an indispensable mode of transport, and even assisted the women’s movement in the process. Modern bikes later added gears and became tailored to the varying needs of different riders. This lead to the development of different models, such as BMX bikes and racing bicycles.


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