Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
The history of the bicycle is so fraught with unknowns and confusion that a yearly Bicycle History conference is held in attempt to clarify these details. Currently in its 15th year, I think/hope some progress has been made and, thus, I am able to provide you with this timeline. The necessity of hosting such a reevaluation of historical influence is demonstrative of the changing influences on the bicycle and its intertwining nature with the culture and society of its temporal and spatial context.
Bicycle Histroy Museum (BHM)
1818- the dandy horse or “running machine” invented by Karl von Drais This contraption was propelled by the rider pushing himself along with this feet on the ground. Lacking pedals, a steering mechanism and brakes, it was difficult and even dangerous to maneuver.
1850- First three-wheeler, allowing for a more stable ride.
1860- First true bicycle invented by Ernest Michaux and Pierre Lallement, known as the velocipede
1861- Included crank and pedals but not yet brakes, resulting in many dangerous “headers”
1870- Penny Farthing bicycle invented. The name came from the idea that the wheels resembled two coins, the penny and the farthing next to each other, the former significantly larger than the latter. It was unstable, extremely difficult to get on and off and the front wheel was used for power and steering. Considering, it was not an ideal or efficient machine.
1885- safety bicycle invented by John Kemp Starley characterized by two wheels of the same size and a rear wheel connected and driven by a chain. This made for a more efficient bicycle that could use smaller wheels. This invention was named for the obvious reason that it was safer than the penny-farthing because of the lower center of gravity.
1894- Betty Bloomers became popular. Women were no longer limited to tricycles and could ride comfortably in their long skirts
1903- Internal hub gears invented
1920- The Kids Bike invented. This design, weighing in at around 65 pounds, mimicked aspects of the motor vehicle as the automobile became more desirable than bikes.
Fair Lawn News
1930- Schwinn adds spring fork and fat tire to handle the abuse of teenage boys. This later became the preliminary design for the mountain bike.
2000- Electric bike
2000- Solar powered Bike- designed by Miroslav Miljevic to include a solar powered battery. Intended for commuters so when they leave their bike outside all day, they won't have to pedal home.
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