Timeline of Bicycle History

The Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan rose to prominence in the late 1860s and early 1870s with the claim that he was the first person to invent the rear-wheel drive bicycle.
The Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan rose to prominence in the late 1860s and early 1870s with the claim that he was the first person to invent the rear-wheel drive bicycle.

Bicycle History

From the earliest drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci, which have now been proven to be fake, to the first wheel-based bicycle of Baron Karl von Draisin, the goal of many inventors over the past six centuries has been to create a device for quick and simple road transportation. These are some of the most significant points in the lengthy history of the bicycle:

  • 1493 – One of the oldest bicycle drawings was discovered during the restoration of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Atlanticus” in the 1960s. The bicycle drawing is not credited to Da Vinci directly, but rather to his pupil Gian Giacomo Caprotti in 1493. Although Da Vinci’s designs could have been made with readily available materials at the time, no functional prototype of the device was ever created. Some historians argue that bicycle travel was not considered socially acceptable during that time. This Claim Has Been Proven To Be A Fake
  • 1649 – With the help of a complex mechanical drive, German inventor Johann Hautsch built an automated carriage that was more like to a motorcar than a bicycle and could carry a single passenger over a distance of 500 meters.
  • 1680 – The earliest known tricycle was invented by German inventor Stephan Farffler; it was powered by a hand crank rather by pedals.
  • 1817 – The first commercially successful human-powered, two-wheeled, steerable transport machine was invented by German Baron Karl von Drais in 1886. Known as Laufmaschine (Draisine in England and Draisine in France), it was designed to resemble a modern bicycle but without a chain-based transmission to one of the wheels; instead, the passenger’s force of walking or running powered the machine’s velocipede, which he could maintain at a desired speed by lifting his feet off the ground.
  • 1820: –A few years after Laufmaschine, Denis Johnson, an English inventor, enhanced Baron Karl von Drais’ design with his “Dandy Horse,” which included substantially larger wheels for increased riding stability.
  • 1860s – The bicycle saw some of the most significant advancements in history during the 1860s. Pierre Michaux developed the bicycle pedal in 1861 and introduced rubber tires and ball bearings for increased speed and ease of use. The first bicycle race was officially documented on May 31, 1868.
  • 1870 – Eugene Meyer, a Frenchman, created the first bicycle with a very large front wheel and a smaller back wheel. James Starley, an Englishman, mass-produced a popular model of such type, which boosted comfort but increased risk in certain scenarios (riding downhill, greater injuries after the fall).
  • 1874 – H.J. Lawson made the first bicycle with a chain.
  • 1885 – The “Golden Age of Bicycles” began when James Starley began manufacturing his safety bicycle, the “Rover,” which is now considered the first “modern” bicycle model because it was incredibly comfortable to ride.
  • 1900 – Up until the advent of mass-produced cars, the only modes of private transportation were bicycles and horses. The bicycle design became standardized (basic diamond shape made from metal, pneumatic rubber tires, roller chain, one gear, and coaster brakes) and remained unchanged for more than 50 years. During that time, many cycling clubs formed in America and Europe.

The 1980s: The 1980s saw the rise in popularity of mountain bikes and BMX, which featured many gears and significantly lighter frames built of carbon fiber or aluminum alloy.


  • Bicycle: The History – David V. Herlihy [ISBN 0300120478]
  • The Golden Age of Bicycle Racing in New Jersey – Michael C Gabriele [ISBN 1596294272]
  • The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle – Frank J. Berto [ISBN 1892495597]
  • The Bicycle: The Myth And The Passion – Francesco Baroni [ISBN-13: 978-8854403369]


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