The nineteenth century could be called the century of bicycles. Indeed, it all started in 1817 when Baron Karl Von hDrais patented a ‘running machine’. This consisted of a wooden two-wheel contraption propelled along with the feet striking the ground. The rider’s elbows rested on a padded balance board. After that, twenty years later came the invention of the first forerunner of a bicycle by MacMillan of Dumfries in Scotland. While trying it out he was fined for ‘furious driving’.
Weird and wonderful
Thereafter many weird and wonderful bicycles appeared. In fact, many became a craze for a year or two before being replaced by newer models. MacMillan’s model, known as the ‘bone shaker’, survived. It was also later known as the ‘penny farthing’. So called as its front wheel was much bigger than the back wheel. The name derived from the British copper penny coin, much bigger than the smallest coin, the farthing. Advice for mounting early models was to take a running jump and then vault into the saddle. Subsequently, Michaux of France invented the first bicycle with pedals.
By the 1860s the biking craze reached New York. Whereas in the UK came the foundation of the first cycling club – the Liverpool Velocipede Club. Shortly thereafter, ‘The Times’ newspaper described the bicycle as ‘a new terror on the streets’. Then the first ladies’ bike appeared, designed to be ridden ‘side-saddle’. This was difficult to balance and a fall could cause serious injuries. Eventually a smaller bicycle appeared. In 1869 cyclists rode from London to Brighton (about 50 miles) in sixteen hours. The first tandem bicycle was built in Scotland for tourists. Ladies had to sit in front because it was considered unseemly for them to face a gentleman’s rear !
Into the 1880s, with the advent of a small two-wheeled machine. After that, John Dunlop produced the first pneumatic tyres. Secondly, tricycles appeared but enthusiasm was short-lived. They were mostly used as delivery vehicles. Meanwhile the Canterbury Bicycle Club rode from Land’s End to John O’Groats in thirteen days. These are the two south/north extremities of the UK. By this time sales had soared. Towards the end of the century came the establishment of the final pattern for a two-wheeled machine. Thereafter improvements continued year by year, and the bicycle became a household ‘must’.
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Collecting vintage bicycles
In conclusion, many vintage bicycles in pristine condition can reach very high asking prices. Anything from $1000 to $7000. Accessories are also much sought after. In addition, there are many Veteran Cycle Clubs and museums for vintage bicycles to be visited. Not only in the UK but also in Holland, France, the US, Japan and Australia.