Timeline of bicycle transportation

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This is a timeline of bicycle transportation.

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Time period Development summary
1800s The velocipede from 1860 is considered the first true bicycle. John Kemp Starley's Rover Safety Bicycle is regarded as the first model of “modern” bicycle.[1] In the 1860s, several different French inventors develop prototypes with pedals attached to the front wheel.[2] In the 1870s there are several advances in metallurgy, including hollow frame tubes and wire-spoked wheels.[3] By 1890, bikes are already popular.[4]
1900s–1950s ". Golden Age of Bicycles lasted from 1900s to 1950s in which bicycles became one of the primary means of public road transportation. Early bicycle clubs popularized recreational driving across America and Europe. During the years their manufacturing costs came down significantly, which increased their use all over the world."[5] During World War I, bicycles play a valuable role as the French, British and Germans deploy bicycle regiments and battalions.[1]
1960s–1970s "Modern age of bicycles started in the 1960s and 70s with the increase of North American consciousness of the benefits of exercise and energy efficient transport."[5] In the 1960s there's a revival of interest in folding bikes.[6] "During the 1970's the so-called Bike Boom occurred in America as the general public became aware of the value of exercise and energy-efficient transportation."[7]
2010s It is estimated that about 16% of the global population can ride a bicycle. China is the global leader in bicycle production, sales, and export.

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
3500 BC–1700s AD The wheel is invented around this time.[7]
500 BC Chinese inventor Lu Ban is probably the first to mention a pedal powered cycle.[1] This is supposed to be a large wooden device with complicated gears and pedals to make it move.[7] China
1493 A bicycle drawing appears in Leonardo Da Vinci's "Codex Atlanticus". However, the drawing is speculated to be made by his student Gian Giacomo Caprotti.No working prototype of the device would be ever made.[8][5][1] Italy
1649 "German inventor Johann Hautsch created an automated carriage that could transport one passenger over 500m with the use of the complicated mechanical drive. His device reminded more of a motorcar than a bicycle."[8]
1680 "German inventor Stephan Farffler created a first known tricycle. This model did not feature pedals, but it was propelled with the use of hand crank."[8]
1790 "Although not strictly speaking a bicycle, the Celerifere was an early precursor to them. It was supposedly developed by Comte Mede de Sivrac in 1790 in France - but it may have been a hoax."[7] France
1817 German engineer Karl Drais patents the Laufmaschine, which combines the three main principles of the bicycle: methods of propulsion, steering, and balance.[3] It is operated by kicking against the street.[2][9] Germany
1820 Denis Johnson of London releases his Dandy horse, using an elegantly curved wooden frame which allows the use of larger wheels. These improve the stability during the ride.[10] United Kingdom
1830s Background Due to improved safety for the rider, tricycles and quadricycles become popular.[3]
1839 Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick MacMillan develops an early rear wheel pedal driven bicycle.[1] United Kingdom
1850 "First three-wheeler, allowing for a more stable ride."[9]
1858 The Boneshaker is released. A stiff contraption, the wheels are pure wood, and the tires are made of iron. Although very impractical and difficult for the rider, it is the first bike in cycling history to have the front-wheel pedals.[11][4]
1860s " During the 1860s decade bicycle one of the most important improvements of all time. Pierre Michaux patented bicycle pedal in 1861 and he started using rubber tires and ball bearings for faster and easier use. First recorded bicycle race happened on May 31, 1868."[9]
1860 French engineers Ernest Michaux and Pierre Lallement invent the velocipede, which is considered the first true bicycle.[3][9] France
1861 "Included crank and pedals but not yet brakes, resulting in many dangerous “headers”"[9]
1866 "1866 – The High WheelerThe Penny-Farthing, also known as the High Wheeler or the Ordinary, looks ridiculous by today’s standards, however when they were first released, they were all the rage."[11]
1867 The velocipede becomes so popular that up to 150 independent manufacturers produce them in France.[3] France
1868 French mechanic Eugène Meyer patents the wire spoke wheel.[1] France
1868 The term bicycle is first used to describe a two-wheeled pedal velocipede.[3] France, United Kingdom, United States
1868 Bicycles start to be mass produced.[11]
1868 The Roper Steam Velocipede is released as the first steam-powered bicycle, coming out around the same time that bicycles begin exploding on the market.[11]
1868 The first velocipede race is held in Paris. English racer James Moore wins.[3] France
1869 "1869 is when the first rubber tires were used for bicycles, which was a major game changer in the development and production as well as the capabilities of bikes."[11]
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."[9]
1870 "1870 – Frenchman Eugene Meyer made a bicycle with very large front wheel and smaller back wheel. Popular model of that type was mass-produced by Englishman James Starley who improved the comfort of the ride but added more danger in some situations (riding downhill, increased injuries after the fall)."[8]
1872 "The Penny-Farthing was popular for decades following its inception. In 1872, it was first manufactured in Britain"[11]
1874 British engineer Harry John Lawson designs the first rear chain driven "safety bicycle".[8][4] United Kingdom
English engineer Editing W. H. J. Grout patents the Grout Tension Bicycle which introduces several innovations including hollow forks to save weight, rubber tyres for a better ride and adjustable spokes which could be tensioned to align the wheel.[12] United Kingdom
1879 British designer Harry John Lawson patents his chain-driven bicycle, with the chain making riding easier.[11] United Kingdom
1880 "1880 – League of American WheelmenThe league of American Wheelmen is one of the most well-known cycling associations in history."[11]
1884 "1884 – The safety bicycleThe safety bicycle was the first to resemble he bicycles we ride today; two wheels of equal size with a similar frame. The Rover Safety, designed by John Kemp Starley, was the official alternative to the Penny-Farthing."[11]
1884 English cyclist Thomas Stevens rides a high-wheeler bike on a journey around the globe.[2]
1885 Bianchi is founded in Italy. It is the world's oldest bicycle manufacturing company in existence, having pioneered the use of equal-sized wheels.[13] Italy
1885 British manufacturer Raleigh Bicycle Company is founded.[14] United Kingdom
1885 "In 1876 one Englishman, Harry John Lawson, invented the revolutionary Safety bicycle. This bike featured a strong metal chain powered by two pedals, two wheels and a frame very similar to modern bicycles." "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."[9][7]
1885 "1885 – The first motorcycle"[11]
1885 John Kemp Starley begins marketing his new Rover Safety Bicycle. It has chain driven rear wheel drive, two equal sized wheels, and provides a much more stable machine than previous bicycles.[1] This model is very and comfortable to use and it starts the era known as “Golden Age of Bicycles”.[8] United Kingdom
1887 "In 1887 American immigrant Thomas Stevens became the first person to travel around the world on a bicycle. His bike of choice? The Penny-Farthing."[11]
1887 American inventor, Emmit G. Latta files a patent for his new folding bike, with the idea to enhance portability and make commuting easy.[4][6] United States
1888 Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop develops inflatable pneumatic bicycle tires, thus providing a smoother ride than existing solid-rubber tires.[11][7][3] United Kingdom
1889 "1889 – The back-pedal brakeThe back-pedal brake, designed to brake the bicycle by simply pedalling in the opposite direction, had been around for a while, first appearing in the Penny-Farthing, and then returning in the Safety Bicycle."[11]
1890 "1890 – Alumnium bikesAs bicycles became more and more common, the idea to use aluminum rose. Alumnium is a light metal, making it very useful for building bicycles."[11]
1891 "1891 – The two-seaterThe Tandem Velocipede patented in 1891 is the world’s first two-seater bike."[11]
1893 British manufacturer Campion Cycle Company is founded.[15] United Kingdom
1893 English engineer William Henry James Grout develops an early folding bike.[6][11] United Kingdom
1893 American engineer Michael B. Ryan files a patent for a folding bicycle.[16] United States
1894 "Betty Bloomers became popular. Women were no longer limited to tricycles and could ride comfortably in their long skirts"[9]
1895 Ogden Bolton Jr. is granted a patent for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel". The device has no gears and the motor can draw up to 100 amperes from a 10-volt battery.[17] [11] United States
1895 Julien Simon and Victor Dussault from France invent the folding tandem.[16] France
1895 Ogden Bolton Jr. is granted a patent for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel".[18] United States
1896 The 1896 Summer Olympics mark the first time that competitive cycling appears in the Olympic games.[11] Greece
1897 An early electric bicycle is built by American engineer Hosea W. Libbey.[19] United States
1898 "1898 – FreewheelingThis one isn’t a bike, but it changed the design of almost every bicycle made after its invention. The idea is simple; this change allowed for bicycles to continue moving without being pedaled."[11]
1899 The American Bicycle Company is founded.[20] United States
1900 The bicycle design becomes standardized, adopting a basic diamond shape made from metal, pneumatic rubber tires, roller chain, one gear, and coaster brakes. This standard would remain unchanged for more than 50 years.[8]
1901 Bike manufacturers create the first recumbent bikes.[4][11]
1903 The first Tour De France is organized as a cycling race.[11] France
1903 Internal hub gears are invented.[9]
1904 Dutch bicycle manufacturer Batavus is founded.[21] Netherlands
1905 Manufacturers develop the rear derailleur gear and integrate it on bikes.[4]
1905 French engineer Paul de Vivie develops the first derailleur successful bicycle sprocket system. It consists of two sprockets that offer two different speeds, an uphill gear and downhill gear.[1] France
1909 Spanish bicycle manufacturer Beistegui Hermanos is founded.[22] Spain
1920 The Kids Bike is invented, weighing in at around 65 pounds, and mimicking aspects of the motor vehicle as automobiles become more desirable than bikes.[9]
1920 Manufacturers start to produce bicycles for kids.[4]
1921 Shimano is founded in Japan. Today, it controls 50% of the world’s bicycle component market, selling everything from brake parts to pedal components.[11] Japan
1924 French manufacturer Charles Mochet starts producing Velocars, a series of human powered velomobiles in both single and two seat versions.[23][11] France
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."[9]
1930 "1930 – Bicycle hub quick releaseTo put it simply, this invention was designed to allow for the wheels of a bicycle to be easily removed and re-installed."[11]
1933 "1933 – The cruiser bikeAlso known as the beach cruiser, these bikes weren’t made for sport or speed. They weren’t made for doing jumps or cool tricks. They were made for one thing and one thing only; going on a leisurely bike ride"[11]
1934 "1934 – Recumbent bike banRecumbent bicycles, as mentioned before, were surprisingly fast. So fast, in fact, that in 1934 the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) banned them from being used in cycling races under their name."[11]
1936 Chinese state-owned bicycle company Flying Pigeon is founded.[24] China
1937 "1937 – Derailleur gears allowed in Tour de FrancePrior to 1937, derailleur gears were not used in the Tour De France, meaning that in order to change gears, riders would have to dismount, remove the wheel from their bicycle, change its gear, put it back on, and continue riding."[11]
1938 A cable operated system appears, allowing riders to change gears without dismounting.[1]
1955 "1955 – The Huffy Radio BicycleSometime in the 1950’s, cycling companies looked at their various lines of bicycles and thought to themselves, “you know what this needs? A radio!” And thus the radio bikes were born."[11]
1956 The first official BMX race is held.[11]
1962 The Moulton bicycle is introdiced. While not a folding bike per se, this model with its small wheels, serves as an inspiration for many folding bicycle designs that would follow.[11][6]
1964 The Italian Graziella is introduced. This model would excercise a large influence on future folding bikes.[6]
1968 "1968 – Raleigh ChopperThe Raleigh Bicycle Company is one of the oldest cycling companies in the world, their founding dating back to 1885. In 1968, they created the coolest looking children’s bike to date: the Raleigh Chopper"[11]
1970 "1970 – MoMountain bikesWith cycling for sport becoming more and more popular, it was obvious that mountain biking would become a thing sooner or later. In 1970, Charlie Kelly and Gary Fisher came up with a bike built for hard-core terrain. It had heavy-duty wheels and a suspension system, allowing it to climb steep inclines, ride over logs, rocks, dirt roads and anything else you’ll find on a mountain."[11]
1970 Cycling sport becomes popular leading to the making of mountain bikes.[4]
1974 Cycling companies start to use titanium for their bikes due to its many key traits.[11]
1976 "1976 – Repack Downhill RaceThe world’s first major organized mountain biking race took place in 1976."[11]
1979 "1979 – Speed recordIn 1979 Freddie Markham, also known as Fast Freddie, set the world speed record of 81.8 Kilometres Per Hour, riding a Human Powered Vehicle." [11]
1980 "During 1980s, use of Mountain Bikes and BMX became popular. They introduced multiple gears and much lighter construction frames made from aluminum alloy or carbon fiber."[8]
1981 "1981 – Specialized StumpjumperWith the increase in mountain biking’s popularity, it became clear that more and more people were interested in trying it out. To that end, Specialized Bicycle Components released the Specialized Stumpjumper; the first mass produced mountain bike."[11]
1983 "1983 – Bike ComputerThese neat devices, sometimes called cyclocomputers, are small digital displays attached to your bicycle that displays information like speed, distance travelled and the current time.

The devices first appeared in 1983, and today they continue to be a popular cycling accessory."[11] ||

1987 "1987 – An upgrade for mountain bikesFrom their inception, mountain bikes were designed for a more heavy duty style of cycling.

However in 1987, Paul Turner, founder of the now defunct cycling company RockShox, made a big improvement on the existing models with his full-suspension mountain bike"[11] ||

1989 "1989 – HelmetsIn 1989, to curb serious injuries and deaths associated with bicycle accidents, the Australian government passed the world’s first helmet laws, ordering all cyclists to wear a helmet."[11]
1992 Vector Services Limited releases e-bike dubbed Zike, which includes NiCd batteries that are built into a frame member and include an 850 g permanent-magnet motor.[19]
1993 "1993 – Electric DerailleursAnother improvement on the gear-shifting mechanisms, the electric derailleur works by having a small battery on the bike attached to a motor that controls the derailleur, and is triggered via a wired or wireless control switch."[11]
1994 "1994 – Disc brakesDisc brakes are primarily intended for off-road bikes, however they have made appearances on other models. A disc brake is a metal disc that is attached to the wheel. When the brakes are trigger, the disc slows down, thus forcing the wheel to also slow."[11]
2000 "Electric bike"[9]
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."[9]
2007 Electric bicycle are thought to make up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of many major Chinese cities by the time.[19] China
2007 British bicycle manufacturer Boardman Bikes is founded.[25] United Kingdom
2010 Worldwide production of bicycles is in the range of 125 to 130 billion units.[5]

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External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Wonning, Paul R. A History of the Transportation Revolution. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Pedal Your Way Through the Bicycle's Bumpy History". history.com. Retrieved 22 August 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 DK. Bicycle: The Definitive Visual History. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "When was the bicycle invented? Complete Bikes History". bikeshaven.com. Retrieved 22 August 2019. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "History of the Bicycle". bicyclehistory.net. Retrieved 21 June 2019. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "The History of the Folding Bike". foldingcyclist.com. Retrieved 22 August 2019. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "The Long and Fascinating History of the Bicycle". interestingengineering.com. Retrieved 21 June 2019. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 "Timeline of the Bicycle History". bicyclehistory.net. Retrieved 20 June 2019. 
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  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 11.17 11.18 11.19 11.20 11.21 11.22 11.23 11.24 11.25 11.26 11.27 11.28 11.29 11.30 11.31 11.32 11.33 11.34 11.35 11.36 11.37 11.38 11.39 11.40 Hiles, Dillon. "58 Milestones from Bicycle History You Must Know". icebike.org. Retrieved 20 June 2019. 
  12. Wiebe E. Bijker (1997), Of bicycles, bakelites, and bulbs, MIT Press, p. 35, ISBN 978-0-262-52227-4 
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