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Topic – The History of Bicycles

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Read about the history of bicycles, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

The History of Bicycles

Penny Farthing

Do you ride a bicycle? Many people ride bikes today for many reasons. Some ride for transportation. Some ride for fun. Some ride for exercise. Riding a modern bicycle is fun and reliable, but this was not always the case.

The bicycle has changed a lot over time. Here are some of these changes.

Design by John Kemp Starley

• The Draisiennes was invented around 1816. The bicycle had two wooden wheels, a seat, and handle bars, but no pedals. Riders used their feet to push the bicycle along the ground.

• The vélocipède was invented around 1867. This bike had cranks and pedals attached to the front wheel, like a tricycle. It had a stiff iron frame and wooden wheels. This made the ride very rough.

• The Penny Farthing was invented around 1870. It was all made of metal and the wheels were solid rubber. The pedals were still attached to the front wheel. The front wheel was much larger than the back wheel, and riders sat up high on the bike. There was no real braking system.

• In 1885, John Kemp Starley invented a bike design very similar to the one used today. The seat was between two wheels of the same size. A sprocket and chain system attached to pedals drove the bike from the rear wheel. When inflated rubber tires were added, bicycle riding became safe and fun. It was called the safety bicycle.

• Today’s bicycles are made of metals such as titanium and carbon. This makes them much lighter. They also have a system of gears that let riders go faster and climb steep hills. There are many types of bikes to choose from. You can buy mountain bikes, road bikes, cruisers, and many more, depending on where and how you want to ride.

Modern bicycle


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