If you’ve ever wondered who invented the first bicycle, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be looking at some of the most important inventors of the modern bicycle. You’ll learn about Joseph Niepce, Ignaz Schwinn, Karl von Drais, and John Kemp Starley.
Bicycles are a long-standing part of American life. But during the Great Depression, the bicycle was quickly replaced by automobiles. Ignaz Schwinn, a German immigrant, established a successful Chicago bicycle company during this period. The Schwinn Bicycle Company is still one of the top bike manufacturers in the U.S. Today, the company sells 1 million bikes per year.
Schwinn is a leading bicycle manufacturer and has a reputation of quality and building some of the most memorable and iconic bicycles ever made. Their bikes set the standard in the industry and were regarded as the best bikes for many generations of American children.
The company was originally located on Fulton Market District’s Lake & Peoria streets. In 1911, it moved to the west. The company produced 25,000 bicycles in the early 1900s. They were sold to department stores, mail order giants, and other bicycle retailers.
Most notably, Kirkpatrick Macmillan is credited with inventing the first bicycle. He was born in Keir (Dumfries and Galloway), Scotland. His father was a blacksmith. Mackmillan’s bicycle was a pedal cycle, which consisted of a front wheel steerable in the direction of the rider, and a rear wheel which was driven by a system of connecting rods.
The first pedal bicycles were heavy, with riders having to exert considerable physical effort to ride them. The first pedal bikes were inefficient and uncomfortable. They were also not suitable for road use.
Macmillan wanted to create a self-propelled vehicle that could easily be operated by someone using a treadle. However, his idea didn’t take off.
Macmillan created a prototype for a pedal-driven bicycle in 1839. It was made of wood and had iron-rimmed wooden tires. These wheels were driven using a system that included foot pedals and connecting rods.
Karl von Drais
Karl von Drais is the father of the bicycle. He invented the first bicycle in 1817. His invention is known by many names, including the bicycle and the velocipede.
He developed several innovations, including a wood-saving cooker and a cooking machine. He was the first to invent a keyboard in 1821. By the mid-19th century, he had a complete line of four-wheeled vehicles.
The first bicycle had wooden wheels with iron wheels. The front wheel was used for steering and power, while the rear was for braking. Later, the pedals were also added.
Drais drove in less than an hour using this device from Mannheim to Schwetzingen. He also drove to Baden-Baden.
Drais’ invention evolved over the years, eventually becoming the “running device.” But he was not recognized for his technical accomplishments until his death.
John Kemp Starley
JK Starley was a British industrialist who invented the first bicycle. His invention was a safety cycle with a chain drive that revolutionized cycling.
Bicycling was a nascent industry that employed thousands. By the mid-1880s, bicycle sales were booming. New products were being manufactured and exported to the rest of the world.
John Kemp Starley’s early inventions included a bicycle with a small rear wheel and a pivot-center steering. He also invented a chain-driven differential gearing that can be used on four-wheeled bikes. These innovations were later used to make motor cars.
After leaving the Coventry Machinists’ Company, Starley went into business with his uncle, James Starley. They started a cycle manufacturing company in 1877. Starley and Sutton were the founders of the company, which manufactured tricycles and bikes.
The company’s first model was the Ariel, a light, all metal bicycle. The large front wheel made the bicycle more efficient for pedal strokes. It was however dangerous because of the height of its saddle.
French scientist and inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Many of his inventions were credited to him, including the invention of the bicycle. His work in chemistry and inventions also included an internal combustion engine.
The Niepce family had been trained in Catholic tradition. They served in the French army during the Revolution, and became King’s Counselors during the reign of Louis XVI. Their family estate in Chalons-sur-Saone produced sugar and beets.
In 1818, when he was a young man, Nicephore worked on a machine that he called the velocipede. This was an early version, without pedals, and featured a saddle that could be adjusted.
He was also interested in lithography, a new art. He hoped to show his plates to King George IV.