In the latter half of the 19th century, riding a bicycle could be a very dangerous sport. Injuries and even death occurred when riders would fall off the enlarged front wheel. Around 1890, the arrival of the safety bicycle with wheels of equal size, changed bicycle history forever.
A High Wheeler
Development of the bicycle is a 19th-century story, though bikes did not really get popular until the arrival of the "high wheeler" around 1870. Also called the "penny farthing," this two-wheeled human-powered vehicle placed the rider atop a very large front wheel. Riding a vehicle like this took great athletic skill and was dangerous if the rider fell.
Several inventions preceded the "safety bicycle" that appeared in 1890. A chain-driven rear-wheel bike was developed in 1879, followed in 1888 by pneumatic tires, which helped cushion the ride. Early bicycle designers used these two concepts to produce a bike that very much resembles the road bikes of today.
The new modern bicycle of the "gay nineties" was the predecessor of the modern 10- and 15-speed bicycles of today. Nearly all the technological improvements that were incorporated into the new "safety bikes" of that era are still in use today. This remains true whether the bicycle costs $100 or thousands of dollars.
Article Written By Henri Bauholz
Henri Bauholz is a professional writer covering a variety of topics, including hiking, camping, foreign travel and nature. He has written travel articles for several online publications and his travels have taken him all over the world, from Mexico to Latin America and across the Atlantic to Europe.