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Bicycle History - The journey of the bicycle

By Editor Miro Susta (mirosu)
Edited and published by Yvette Depaepe, the 29th of March 2024

'Your bicycle is a discovery; your bicycle is freedom.
It does not matter where you are when you are on the saddle; you are taken away.'

~Doug Donaldson~  Canadian Politician.


'The away' by Harry Bünger


But what do you know about the history of the bicycle?
How old is it, who invented it?
This photo article may answer some opened questions.

In 1815, the Indonesian volcano Tambora erupted, releasing such a huge amount of volcanic ash into the atmosphere that the following year was dubbed "the year without a summer". Both continents, Europe and North America were particularly affected by this disaster.
As a result of these events, agricultural productivity declined and starvation set in.
In addition, there was also a problem of a shortage of horses.



This made the German forester and inventor Karl Drais wonder how he could get around in the narrow forest paths without horses.
The first vehicle Drais designed was a four-wheel design.
The vehicle was light and easy to operate, but the big disadvantage was that it had to be pulled by someone, either horses or people.

Over time, however, he realised that a four-wheeled vehicle was not what he wanted and decided to have only two wheels.
Therefore, in 1817, he produced a single-track vehicle that the rider could control with the front wheel. The two consecutive wheels were connected by a frame with a seat for the rider.



It was made from wood and the rider propelled it with his feet, which bounced off the ground, but even so, a person could develop a speed of around 15km/h on it. This vehicle was named the Draisina, named after the inventor's name.

The first pedal-powered bicycle was built in 1839. It was invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, who added a pedal mechanism to the bicycle.


'Biker man' by Dan Mirica


The bicycle had a shaft connecting the rear wheel to the pedals. However, even this bicycle did not take off in practical use. The problem was that with one turn of the pedals, the wheel also turned only once and so cycling was very tiring.

Later, to make cycling easier, the front wheel was enlarged on bicycles, so that the bike could go much further with one turn of the pedals.



This bicycle was the product of Englishman James Starley in the 1870s.


'Nina' by Monika Vanhercke


A greater success was achieved by James Starley's bicycle from 1885, when the first bicycle with a chain was constructed.


'Someone’s Treasure' by Teri Reames


This is how the bicycle gained great speed. Thanks to the small wheels, it was more stable and gained increased supporters among the public.


'India' by Luís Godinho


Progressively, various important parts started to be added to the bike, besides the pedals and chain, such as lights to light the road and, of course, cable brakes, although at first the braking was done by reversing the pedals, which has remained on some bikes to this day.


'Alignment' by Tomoshi Hara



'Golden Bermed Corner' by Sandi Bertoncelj

In 1908 the first racing bicycle was built that had handlebars, called rams.


'In the race' by Joshua Raif


This is how we know the bicycle to this day, except that today it has better high sophisticated components and is made of superior lightweight materials.


'The bike' by Paolo Crocetta


Today, bicycles are the most widely used sporting gear worldwide, but they don't have to be just for the sport. They are also used for transport to work or for fun.


'Bicyclist' by Bror Johansson


The most common kinds of bicycles in use around the world today are listed below:

Road Bikes designed for fast riding on smooth roads, they are ideal for training, longer rides on easy and covering long distances.


'Cycling tour' by Marc Apers



'Safe haven' by Linda Wride


Road Racing Bikes, sporty with low seating position bikes, agile and direct handling, good aerodynamics, and they are fast and light.


'Last Fight' by Louie Luo



'Time machine' by Nir Amos


Mountain Bikes, designed for mountain biking on difficult off-road terrain. They have straight handlebars and a very low gear for pedalling up slopes.


'Sunset trail ride' by Sandi Bertoncelj


'Going to town' by Wiktor Klette


Triathlon and Time Trial Bikes, being road bikes with special designs that maximise their aerodynamic properties. The handlebars also have a special aerodynamic design that enables ducking forward when riding to minimize wind resistance against the body.


'L’extraterreste' by Mario Cliche


Bicycle Rickshaw, a tricycle for passenger and/or goods transportation.


'Habana street' by Koji Morishige



'Ride' by Roxana Labagnara


Electric Bikes, make a wide range of different terrains accessible to cyclists. Thanks to developments in electric motor and battery technology, they are now available in almost as many types and styles as traditional bicycles. Depending on the specific type, they are suitable for both city riding and heavy off-road riding.

Finally, some inspirational cycling quotes:

'To me it does not matter whether it is raining, or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike, I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world.'
~Mark Cavendish~ British pro racer.


'Cycling in the dust' by Carlo Beretta


'It is great to feel the wind on my face and the smooth running of the bike. Speeding through the air gives a great feeling of power and buoyancy, and the motion makes my pulse dance and my heart race.'
~Helen Keller~ an American Author.


'Urban cyclist' by luisfer


'When your spirits sink, when the days begin to darken, when work becomes monotonous, when hope stops being worth hoping for, just get on your bike and ride without thinking about anything other than the ride itself.'
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle~ British author.


'Golden hour biking' by Sandi Bertoncelj


'Life is like riding a bicycle. But to keep your balance, you need to move.' 
~Albert Einstein~


'Between lines' by Adolfo Urrutia


'The bicycle is an interesting vehicle. The passenger is its engine.'
John Howard~ American cyclist.


'Bike art' by Annemieke


'Nothing compares to the simple joy of riding a bicycle.'
~John F Kennedy~


'Bicycle tour' by Anette Ohlendorf


'No other invention combines the useful with the enjoyable as closely as the bicycle.'
~Adam Opel~ founder of the Opel Car Company


'Trace' by Tiger Seo


Why have bicycles become so popular?
In a world of mass consumption, they are the last representatives of simplicity, back to the definitive, classic bicycle.


'Ubein Bridge' by Buket Ozatay


The classic bike is very popular with many people who want to reconnect with their surroundings and the environment.
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Very interesting and exciting article with the wonderful works! Appreciate very much your feeling and work in it.! Learning.
Many thanks for your nice appreciation dear Wanghan.
So much to admire, so much to explore and learn, so beautifully presented.Congratulations and thank you, dear Miro, always creating a challenging story.
Great thanks for your lovely words of praise dear Gabriela, I appreciate it very much.
Marvellous capture
Many thanks dear Pang Teng.
¡Maravillosa historia! . El vehiculo universal.
Muchas gracias por tu bonito comentario Ruiz.
Wonderful collections, congratulations to all the photographers.
Thank you very much for your praise dear Molly.
What a great collection of images that are beautiful and unique. And thanks for sharing the interesting history of bicycles. Congratulations!
Many thanks for your wonderful comment dear Linda, I appreciate it very much.
Beautiful. So nice presentation. Topic, photos and history lession, all in one. Bravo!
Great thanks for your praise dear Bolle, I greatly appreciate it.