Brief history of the bicycle (1/2)

Previously to the official bike birth, there were a bunch of tries to develop a way of transport different to the traditional carriages. It seems that it was the evolution of let’s say a toy invented and named Célérifère back in the early 19th century. The object had a wooden chassis with animal shape and two wheels. The problem was it could only go in straight line. This invention borned in Paris, France in 1791 during the French Revolution. Earl Mede de Sivrac made it up by putting the two wheels in tandem rather than in parallel as it was common at that time. Britons plagiarised it with their Dandy Horse.

For 20 years it remained unaltered until the German Karl Von Drais introduced an innovation by adding handlebars. He named it Laufmaschine (running machine in German), although it is known as Draisine. He patented it and had certain success. Still it moved as a scooter due to the lack of pedals. The Scottish Kirkpatrick Macmillan added crankshafts through two cranks which allowed spinning the back wheel in 1839.

The French Pierre Michaux and his son Ernesto invented the pedals in 1861. This invention allowed the velocipede to reach higher speeds than with the draisine: The spectacular 5 km/h (3.11 mph) speed and 30 pedal rotations by minute.

In the next years, the innovations consisted in increasing the front wheel since as it had a direct transmission, the bigger the wheel, the more distance with every pedaling. At the same time the rear wheel was reduced to avoid excessive weight to the velocipede. The English people created the BI or High Wheeler to fulfill this idea. The objective was increasing speed with less weight, but also with less equilibrium. Hence, a velocipede with a 1.40 m diameter front wheel advanced 4.40 m, whereas if the wheel had a diameter of 1.70 m, its movement was 8.40 m. The record was reached by Victor Renard who put the cyclist at 2.50 m to advance 12.25 m every time a complete wheel turn was made.

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