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Zoom Inventors and Inventions
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The Invention of the Bicycle

The earliest bicycle was a wooden scooter-like contraption called a celerifere; it was invented about 1790 by Comte Mede de Sivrac of France. In 1816, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, of Germany, invented a model with a steering bar attached to the front wheel, which he called a Draisienne. It has two wheels (of the same size), and the rider sat between the two wheels, but there were no pedals; to move, you had to propel the bicycle forward using your feet (a bit like a scooter). He exhibited his bicycle in Paris on April 6, 1818.

Kirkpatrick MacMillan (1812-1878), a blacksmith from Dumfriesshire, Scotland, invented the first bicycle with foot pedals in the 1830 to 1840's, but he never patented it and his idea did not catch on locally.

A French father-and-son team of carriage-makers, Pierre and Ernest Michaux, invented an improved bicycle in the 1860's. Many early bicycles (called velocipedes, meaning "fast foot," or, more descriptively, "bone shakers") had huge front wheels - it was thought that the bigger the wheel, the faster you could go. Early tires were wooden - metal tires were an improvement, and solid rubber tires were added later. A chain with sprockets was added to the bicycle in the 1880's; this was called the "safety bicycle." Air-filled tires were also added in the 1880's. The derailleur gear system was added in the 1970's.

For a bicycle diagram printout to label, click here.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1300's and Earlier 1400's 1500's 1600's 1700's 1801-1850 1851-1900 1901-1950 1951-2000
Clothing Communication Food Fun Medicine Science/Industry Transportation Undersea
African-Americans Women British Isles China France Germany Greece Italy Scandinavia USA/Canada
Guidelines on Writing a Report on an Invention





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