Saturday, July 9, 2011
The direct precursor of the modern bicycle was the French crank-driven, loose-pedaled velocipede, which became popular in France about 1855. The frame and wheels were made of wood. The tires were iron, and the pedals were attached to the hub of the front, or driver, wheel, which was slightly higher than the rear wheel. In England this machine was known as the Boneshaker, because of its effect on a rider pedaling over a rough road or a cobblestoned street. In 1869 in England, solid rubber tires mounted on steel rims were introduced in a new machine, which was the first to be patented under the modern name Bicycle.
The modifications and improvements of the next 15 years included the ball bearing and the pneumatic tire. These inventions, along with the use of weld less steel tubing and spring seats, brought the ordinary bicycle to its highest point of development. The excessive vibration and instability of the high-wheel bicycle, however, caused inventors to turn their attention to reducing the height of the bicycle.