The bicycle was invented in 1817 by Baron Von Daris.
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Although there were many earlier bicycle-like inventions, the bicycle as we know it today was developed in 1885 as the "safety bicycle." It was produced in Coventry, England, by the machinist James Starley (1830–1881) and improved in 1888 by the Scotsman John Dunlop (1840–?) who invented the pneumatic (air-filled tire). The relative ease and safety of these new bicycles made them so popular that by 1900 more than 10,000,000 Americans owned bicycles.
Predecessors to the modern bicycle included the "dandy horse," which was invented in 1816 by German baron Karl Friedrich Freiherr von Drais de Sauerbronn (1785–1851). His device, also known as a "draisenne," was a two-wheeled vehicle moved by the thrust of the rider's feet upon the ground. In 1839 Scotsman Kirkpatrick Macmillan (1813–1878) added pedals and mechanical propulsion to this vehicle, making it easier to ride. His invention was then altered in 1865 by Frenchman Pierre Lallement, whose device was dubbed "the boneshaker" and relied on iron-tired wooden rims and had a larger front wheel. In 1870 Starley designed the "Ariel," or the "penny-far-thing." It relied upon a highly exaggerated front wheel and though it was faster and easier to pedal, its high center of gravity made it dangerous and hard to control. A similar device with three wheels, known as the velocipede, was in vogue during the 1880s. However, it was not until the development of the safety bicycle, with its equal wheels and a bike chain, that mass production of the bicycle began to meet high demand.
Despite the popularity of the automobile, the bicycle continued to be used throughout the world. In the United States, bicycle riding was a leisure sport that rivaled baseball in popularity. Cycling clubs emerged and the tandem (two-rider) bicycle became a popular with young people who were courting (called dating today). The bicycle industry produced some of the great transportation innovators, including two pairs of brothers—Charles Duryea (1861–1938) and Frank Duryea (1869–1967), who invented the first gas-powered car, and Wilbur Wright (1867–1912) and Orville Wright (1871–1948), who invented the first airplane. Today the bicycle remains a practical means of transport in many countries of the world and continues to be used for both sport and leisure.
Further Information:Bicycle History. [Online] Available http://members.aol.com/bicyclemus/bike_ museum/PHbikbio.htm, November 8, 2000; Dodge, Pryor, and David V. Herlihy. The Bicycle.New York: Flammarion, 1996.