Pierre Lallement – Inventor of the Pedal Bicycle
Many European inventors contributed to the history of the modern bicycle, but one of the most significant was unquestionably French engineer and carriage maker Pierre Lallement (1843–1891). Lallement worked on several bicycle models that were eventually mass-produced in Europe and oversaw a significant improvement in the first generation of bicycles’ technical capabilities.
Born in Pont-à-Mousson, near Nancy, France, on October 25, 1843, Pierre Lallement was well-versed in the art of building baby carriages before the age of twenty. This allowed him to create almost anything he desired. In 1862, he saw the first model of the Dandy Horse being driven on the streets, and intrigued by the designs created by Baron Karl Drais several decades earlier, he began formulating a plan to improve the driving experience.
But his bicycle design was not well received in his hometown, so in 1863 he moved to Paris and made business partners with the Olivier brothers (Aimé, René, and Marius) and Pierre Michaux. This group was responsible for the establishment of the world’s first factory for mass production of bicycles, producing and selling two-wheeled velocipedes made entirely of wood, which quickly gained popularity throughout France as the Boneshaker model. During this period, however, Pierre Lallement and Pierre Michaux fell out over who owned the designs of those bicycles, which led to tension between them.
Following those early issues with the Pierre Michaux, Pierre Lallement moved to Ansonia, Connecticut, in 1865, and remained there for the next twenty years, working to improve bicycle design while winning US approval for a bicycle that had a better frame, pedals, and seat than any other bicycle available at the time. Lallement traveled back and forth between Paris and the US in an effort to raise money for organized bicycle manufacturing and to fight patents in court.
He passed away on August 29, 1891, without ever being acknowledged as the first person to put pedals on a dandy horse until many later, when numerous international organizations bestowed upon him posthumous honors and inductions into the Hall of Fame.