When Was the First Bicycle Built?
The bicycle was first built in 1790. It was simply a wooden bar with a wheel at each end and had no pedals or steering bar. The rider pushed it along with his feet. It wasn’t until many years later that a steering bar and pedals were added. About a hundred years ago, people rode bicycles called “high-wheelers.”
They had front wheels almost as tall as an adult, but they were hard to get on and easy to tip over. The safety bicycle, with both wheels the same size, appeared in the late 1800s.
An English inventor named John Kemp Starley came up with a winning idea for a “safety bicycle” in the 1870s. This bicycle was much more like the kind we ride today. Starley is perhaps best known for his invention of the tangent-spoke wheel in 1874.
At first, bicycles were a relatively expensive hobby, but mass production made the bicycle a practical investment for the working man, who could then ride to his job and back home.
Women, too, started riding in great numbers, which required a dramatic change in ladies’ fashion. Bustles and corsets were out; bloomers were in, as they gave a woman more mobility while allowing her to keep her legs covered with long skirts.