The Development Of The Safety Bicycle

The development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle
The development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle

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The Safety Bicycle, 1880s and 1890s

Arguably the most significant development in the history of the bicycle was the creation of the safety bicycle, which changed the public’s opinion of and usage of bicycles from being a risky toy for young men who were competitive athletes to an everyday means of transportation for people of all ages.

The dwarf bicycle, typified by the Kangaroo, was an attempt by inventors to address these issues with a chain-driven front wheel, in addition to the apparent safety concerns. They also experimented with a rear-wheel chain drive.

Despite being dubbed “The Crocodile” by its critics, Harry John Lawson’s “bicyclette,” which had a large front wheel and a small rear wheel, was the first rear-chain-drive bicycle to fail in the market in 1879.

The first successful “safety bicycle,” the “Rover,” was created in 1885 by James’s nephew John Kemp Starley; he never received a patent for it, but it had a steerable front wheel with a large caster, equal-sized wheels, and a chain drive to the back wheel.1]

Widely imitated the pneumatic bicycle tyre, which John Dunlop invented in 1888, made for a much smoother ride on paved streets; the previous type was quite smooth-riding when used on the common dirt roads of the time.[52] The safety bicycle was widely imitated and completely replaced the high-wheeler in North America and Western Europe by 1890. By 1890, the safety bicycle had completely replaced the high-wheeler in North America and Western Europe.

On paved streets, however, John Dunlop’s 1888 creation of the pneumatic bicycle tyre resulted in a far smoother ride than the preceding model, which was pretty smooth on the popular dirt roads of the day [52].

The smaller wheel size of safety bicycles, as with the original velocipede, made them much less comfortable than high-wheelers, and frames were frequently buttressed with intricate bicycle suspension spring assemblies. All of these were rendered obsolete by the pneumatic tyre, and frame designers discovered that a diamond pattern was the strongest and most effective design.

African-American inventor Isaac R. Johnson filed for a patent on October 10, 1899, for the first folding bicycle, which had a diamond frame that is still recognisable in bicycles today.

The development of the safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle
An 1884 McCammon safety bicycle
An 1885 Whippet safety bicycle
An 1885 Whippet safety bicycle
An 1889 Lady's safety bicycle
An 1889 Lady’s safety bicycle
Starley's "Royal Salvo" tricycle, as owned by Queen Victoria
Starley’s “Royal Salvo” tricycle, as owned by Queen Victoria
Bicycle in Plymouth, England at the start of the 20th century
Bicycles in Plymouth, England, at the start of the 20th century
a ca. 1887 colour print

Because the drive was transferred to the non-steering rear wheel, the chain drive increased comfort and speed while facilitating smooth, relaxed, and injury-free pedalling (earlier designs that required pedalling the steering front wheel were difficult to pedal while turning due to the misalignment of the rotational planes of the leg and pedal). The rider was also able to turn corners more easily.

A hard rubber bicycle tyre is just as rideable but very painful to ride on; the diamond frame and pneumatic tyre both enhance rider comfort but are not essential components of the design or safety features. The frame design makes the bicycle lighter and requires less maintenance, which lowers the cost.

The first electric bicycle was probably built in 1897 by Hosea W. Libbey. Bicycle sales were one of the few sectors of the economy that continued to grow in the middle of the decade despite a severe economic depression, which encouraged hundreds of manufacturers to enter the market. However, this led to a downward spiral of market saturation, oversupply, and fierce price competition, which ultimately caused the collapse of many manufacturers as the bicycle bubble burst.

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