The History of the Bicycle

By Rao Chalasani

Many credit Baron von Drais as the grandfather of the bicycle. In 1817, he introduced a two-wheeled, wood-framed and wood-wheeled “hobby horse” that required people to propel it with their feet. Featuring a steerable front wheel but no pedals, this device was considered a fad and could only be used on well-paved paths and in gardens.

Nearly 50 years later, the velocipede came out. Featuring pedals attached to the front wheel, it was dubbed the “boneshaker” due to its constant rattling on cobblestone streets. Subsequently, the high wheel bicycle was introduced. Unlike its two predecessors, this was made entirely of metal and provided a greater range of movement. Dangerous to operate, it was prone to falling in the face of the slightest obstacle. By the end of the 19th century, bikes had begun to adopt the form popular today, due to the introduction of the pneumatic tire and the chain-and-sprocket design.

About the Author:

A New York City-based financial executive, Rao Chalasani has served businesses including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corporation, SunGard Data Systems Inc., and Deutsche Bank AG. Chalasani counts cycling among his hobbies.