January 19, 2021






Our content is

provided free

a public service!

IBF is 100%

        solar powered

Follow us on Twitter


blue bar

National Bicycle History Archive of America

Historical Sources / Museums / Exhibits
(Africa, America, Asia, England, Ireland, Europe)

Chronology of the Growth of Bicycling and the
Development of Bicycle Technology

by David Mozer

Note: Many people claim credit for inventing the first bicycle. 
The answer to the question often depends upon the nationality of who you
ask; the French claim it was a Frenchman, Scots claim a Scotsman, the English an
Englishman, and Americans often claim that it was
an American.  Since the early 1990’s the
International Cycling History
, has worked to get
past the jingoism.  Our current understanding of the history of the bicycle
suggests that many people contributed ideas and developments:

Date      Development

1418 Giovanni Fontana, a fifteenth century Italian
physician and engineer, is credited with building the first human powered land vehicle
— it had four wheels and used an continuous rope, connected via gears to the
wheels. Images and more detailed description don’t seem to exist. Source: R.
John Way, The Bicycle – A Guide and Manual.
Scetch of bicycle falsely attributed to Leonard da VinciOther
bicycle histories websites include a sketches showing a primitive version of a bicycle, purportedly
drawn by
Leonardo da Vinci,
that surfaced in 1974. Experts consider the sketches a hoax: Further
examination of the drawings indicates these are not in da Vinci’s hand. The speculation that these are a sketch by a
pupil after a lost drawing by da Vinci is also considered false. A test to
date the document
was performed, but the library in Milan (belonging to the Vatican) conceals
its negative outcome, see

1791 Comte Mede de Sicrac is credited with building the “celerifer” –
purportedly a hobby horse
with two wheels instead of a rocker. Nothing else is known about Mede de Sicrac,
not even when he was born or died. This is probably because he never lived. This is now considered a
patriotic hoax created by Baudry de Saunier, a French historian in 1891.  It was debunked
by a French researcher in 1976.  In fact, a Jean Sievrac
(!) of Marseille obtained an import price for a four-wheeled horse drawn coach
called celerifer in 1817.  See

Hobby HorseVariously
called the running machine, velocipede, Draisienne and dandy horse, it was invented by Karl Drais, in response to
widespread starvation and the slaughtering of horses, the consequence of a crop


1817 Baron von Drais invents the Draisine (also known as a Hobby Horse
or Swift-Walker), an improved celerifere than can be steered with handlebars.

 Draisine  Draisine

1839 Kirkpatrick MacMilan of Scotland adds cranks and treadmills
to the rear axle of a two-wheeled vehicle, but gains only local notoriety.

1858 Pedals are added to the front wheel of a two-wheeled machine,
creating a bone-jarring machine challed the velocipede or “boneshaker.”

 Velocipede  Velocipede

1868 Velocipedes are manufactured in the United States and velocipede
riding becomes a popular fad.

1869 Solid rubber tires replace iron velocipede tires and the
term “bicycle” is first used.

1872 The Ariel, the first high-wheel Ordinary, is manufactured
in Britian.

 Ordinary  Ordinary

1876 The Ordinary or high-wheeler is first displayed in America.

1877 First U.S.-made Ordinary manufactured.

1880 League of American Wheelmen is founded and begins lobbying
for better roads.


1884 Thomas Stevens pedals across the United States –from Oakland,
California, to Boston Massachusetts. J. K. Starley invents the “safety

 Saftey Bicycle  Starley Saftey bicycle

1889 Pneumatic rubber tires invented.

1894 Fashion designers re-introduce the bloomer costume, freeing
women from the restrictive corsets and dress of the time.

1895 Chicago puts its mailmen on bicycles; the price of a good-quality
horse reaches a new low; four schoolmarms stir up controversy by wearing
bloomers to work.

1896 Margaret Valentine Le Long rides from Chicago to San Francisco;
coaster brakes are invented; Henry Ford builds his first succesful automobile.

Ford’s first automobile  Ford's Automobile

1898 Bicyles’ popularity in the United States declines.

1899 “Mile-a-Minute” Murphy sets a bicycle speed record
— one mile in 57.75 seconds.

1903 Bicycle mechanics Wilbur and Orville Wright fly 120 feet
in the first succesful airplane.

1962 New bicycle boom begins.

1972 Bicycles outsell cars in the United States –13 million to
11 million; bicycle thefts account for 17% of all larcenies in the U.S.

1973 Dr. Allan Abbott sets a bicycle speed record, reaching 138.674
mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

1975 First Internation Human Powered Speed Championships held.

1976 2,000 cyclists celebrate the Bicentennial by riding across

1981 The Specialized Stumpjumper became the first mass-produced mountain
bikes. It helps popularize the sport.

1984 The road race becomes the first women’s cycling event at
the Olympics.

1985 John Howard of the US sets a new bicycle speed record of
152.284 mph. The first person to go over 150 miles an hour on a bicycle.

1995 Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands sets a new bicycle speed
record of 166.9 mph. At the time, he was 50 years old, and the world’s
oldest professional cyclist.

1996 Mountain biking introduced as an Olympic sport.


Source Article