The Bicycle

Bicycle (Pedal)

Who invented the Bicycle? The name of the man most frequently credited with inventing the bicycle is Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1812 - 1878), however the ideas, inventions, developments and contributions of many other inventors contributed to the design of the modern bicycle.  This article provides a history timeline of the key inventions and the names of the men who made significant additions to the development of the two-wheeled vehicles that helped to move transportation away from horse drawn vehicles.

Evolution of the Bicycle: The evolution of the bicycle began with the invention of the Celerifere in 1790 followed by the Dandy Horse in 1817. Kirkpatrick Macmillan invented the pedal bicycle in 1839 and the Velocipede or Boneshaker emerged in 1862. The boneshaker was replaced by the Penny Farthing, aka the High-Wheeler in 1870. The Penny Farthing was replaced by the Safety Bicycle and specialized bikes such as the Chopper, the BMX, the Mountain Bike and the modern day electric bike and Solar bike.


Facts about who invented the Bicycle


 Inventions and Inventors Index


Definition of the Bicycle: The Bicycle is defined as a light, human powered, road vehicle that has two wheels, one behind the other, a saddle seat and is moved by the bike rider's feet on foot pedals acting on cranks or levers.

Fact 1: Who invented the Bicycle? Prior to the invention of the  Bicycle people used horse drawn transport. There were many  early forerunners to the modern bicycle and the names of the first contraptions and their inventors are detailed in the article.

Fact 2: Who invented the Bicycle? The Celerifere: The first bicycle (from 'bi' meaning "two" and the Greek word kyklos meaning "circle, wheel") was called the Celerifere. In 1790 Comte Mede de Sivrac invented the Celerifere, a wooden scooter-like vehicle consisting of two big wheels connected to a wooden beam. The Celerifere had no handlebar or pedals and the rider sat on a cushion and propelled the device by pushing his feet against the ground. The Celerifere was the first move away from horse drawn vehicles.

Fact 3: Who invented the Bicycle? The Dandy Horse: In 1817 Baron Karl von Drais invented the Dandy Horse that he called the Laufmaschine, the German for "running machine" also known as the Draisine in English.  The Dandy Horse was a two-wheeled vehicle propelled by the rider pushing along the ground with the feet by walking or running. Dandy Horse also became known as a hobby-horse and a modern version is used as a starter balance bicycle for children.

Fact 4: Who invented the Bicycle? The Pedal Bicycle: In 1839 a Scottish blacksmith named Kirkpatrick Macmillan was having a go at building a Dandy Horse when he had an idea for a self-propelled machine that would move forward without the traveller putting his feet to the ground. He invented a pedal driven bicycle made of wood. In 1842 Kirkpatrick Macmillan travelled 76 miles to Glasgow from Dumfries on his pedal bicycle. Kirkpatrick Macmillan never thought of patenting or selling his invention but other people soon realized the potential of his pedal driven bicycle. Kirkpatrick Macmillan is the name most often used as the inventor of the bicycle.

Fact 5: Who invented the Bicycle? Gavin Dalzell Pedal Bicycle: In 1846 Gavin Dalzell of of Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire in Scotland made a copy of Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s pedal machine. One of Gavin Dalzell’s metal and wood bicycles still survives today in the Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow and is one of the oldest bicycles in the world

Fact 6: Who invented the Bicycle? Pierre Michaux Velocipede: In 1868 a blacksmith called Pierre Michaux (1813 - 1883) added pedals to a Dandy Horse to form a Velocipede, another forerunner of the modern bicycle.  The Velocipede, meaning "fast foot", was propelled by the feet of the rider with alternate thrusts of each foot on the ground and had a steer-able front wheel.

Fact 7: Who invented the Bicycle? Pierre Lallement Velocipede: Although Pierre Michaux has credit for inventing the first commercially successful Velocipede it was another inventor, a carriage maker called Pierre Lallement (1843 - 1891), who is considered by many historians to be the inventor of the pedal bicycle in 1862. Lallement added pedals and a crank mechanism which were attached to the hub of front wheel of the Dandy Horse. Pierre Lallement moved to America in 1865 and received a patent for his invention in 1866.

Fact 8: Who invented the Bicycle? Boneshaker: The Velocipede was made of cast iron frames, had straight angles, steel wheels and was extremely uncomfortable to ride. Used to ride over the cobblestone roads of the day the Velocipede was given the nick name of the "boneshaker".

Fact 9: Who invented the Bicycle? Penny Farthing (High-Wheeler): The Penny Farthing or High-Wheeler followed the boneshaker vehicle in 1870. The name "Penny Farthing" was given due to the design of this bicycle which had a small wheel in back and a big wheel in front. The British coin called a Penny was much larger than the farthing coin. A French mechanic called Eugene Meyer is credited with making important contributions to the development of the Penny Farthing bicycle. The British inventor James Starley is also closely associated with the Penny Farthing and is known as the father of the bicycle industry.

Fact 10: Who invented the Bicycle? Penny Farthing: Solid rubber tires and the long spokes of the large front wheel provided the Penny Farthing with a much smoother ride than the boneshaker. The front wheels of the Penny Farthing became larger and larger as manufacturers realized that the larger the front wheel, the faster and farther you could travel with just one rotation of the pedals. James Starley added a mounting step to facilitate using the large front wheel of the Penny Farthing. The Penny Farthing was expensive, tricky to ride, difficult to mount and resulted in many injuries.

Fact 11: Who invented the Bicycle? Safety Bicycle: The popularity of the dangerous Penny Farthing came to an end in the 1870s as people started experimenting with a link-chain connecting the pedals to the drive wheel. The new bikes with equal sized wheels were called Safety Bikes.

Fact 12: Who invented the Bicycle? H.J. Lawson Safety Bicycle: In 1874 Harry John Lawson designed several types of bicycles and one of his inventions launched in 1874 and called th "Bicyclette" was described as the "first authentic design of safety bicycle employing chain-drive to the rear wheel which was actually made".

Fact 13: Who invented the Bicycle? John K. Starley Safety Bicycles: In 1885 John K. Starley (the nephew of James Starley who pioneered the Penny Farthing) launched the  Rover Safety Bicycle, the term safety referred to having a normal sized front wheel. The Rover Safety Bicycle was more stable and easier to stop that the Penny Farthing bicycles and featured the unique diamond pattern frame. The John K. Starley Rover Safety Bicycle was more compact and had lighter frames than any other bikes and soon dominated the market.

Fact 14: Who invented the Bicycle? J. B. Dunlop Pneumatic Tires: In 1888 the Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop (1840 - 1921) invented the Pneumatic rubber tire and fitted them to bicycle wheels. The addition of Dunlop's Pneumatic rubber tire made cycling significantly more comfortable and made bikes much faster and led to the mass production of bicycles and led to the bicycling craze.

Fact 15: Who invented the Bicycle? Sturmey Archer: In 1903 the Sturmey Archer manufacturing company invented internal hub gears producing the world's first 3-speed internal gear hub. By 1930 these were used on bikes manufactured around the world.

Fact 16: Who invented the Bicycle? Derailleur: In 1905 Paul de Vivie (1853 - 1930) invented the first Derailleur enabling gears to be changed easily. The Derailleur shifted gears by moving the chain between sprocket wheels of different sizes.

Fact 17: Who invented the Bicycle? The Chopper Bike:  In 1967 Alan Oakley (1927 - 2012) who worked for the Raleigh Bicycle Company invented the Chopper bike especially for children. The Chopper featured the radical new long 'Polo' seat, wide tires, a distinctive frame and was available in a variety of colors. The Chopper bike became one of the most popular types of bicycle of the 1970s.

Fact 18: Who invented the Bicycle? BMX Bikes:  The Chopper bicycle was overtaken in popularity by the invention of BMX bikes in California. The BMX racers were developed in 1971, their name was a semi-acronym from bicycle motocross. The person most associated with the development of the BMX is Scot Alexander Breithaupt (1957 - 2015). BMX bikes emerged when teenagers began imitating the motocross stars of the time began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks.

Fact 19: Who invented the Bicycle? Mountain bikes:  In 1978 Joe Breeze Marin County, California introduced the first purpose-built mountain bikes called Breezers.

Fact 20: Who invented the Bicycle? The invention of the Automobile by Karl Benz in 1886 eclipsed  sales of the bicycle but there has been a resurgence in their popularity in recent years. Latest bicycle innovations include the electric bicycle and the Solar bicycle. Another recent invention of the two-wheeled king is the Segway that was invented by Dean Kamen in 2001.

Impact: The invention of the bicycle made personal transportation practical for the general population and significantly increased the distances people could travel and the places they could visit.

Who Invented the Bicycle - Kirkpatrick Macmillan - Inventor - Invention - Definition - Meaning - Famous - Important - History - Bicycle Timeline - Innovation - Significant - Development - Bicycle - Penny Farthing Bicycle - First - Definition - Kids - Bicycle Facts - Information - Info - Who invented the Bicycle - Dates - When - Why - Impact - Purpose - Use - New - Old - Amazing - Best - Bicycle Definition - Meaning - Bikes - History - Timeline - Who Invented the Bicycle