The Invention & History of the Bicycle – A Brief Overview

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Karl von Drais – 1815

Bicycle Shop St. George

The bicycle was first invented out of necessity, rather than convenience or fashion. What made the creation of a new “two-wheeled Laufmachine” (running machine) in Germany during the early 19th century was, in fact, the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, which resulted in a volcanic winter that starved out a large number of horses – a “horse substitute” was thus created.

Baron Karl von Drais patented the earliest bicycle design – two wheels underneath a seat and handlebars, moved by the force of the rider pushing off the ground with his or her feet. This steerable, two-wheeled contraption certainly had a long way to go before eventually evolving into the modern-day products you’d see at our St. George bicycle shop. This device was clunky, wooden, and lacked a chain, brakes, and pedals.

Pierre Lallement, Pierre Michaux and Ernest Michaux – 1860

Karl von Drais’ bicycle model eventually fell out of fashion, but the design was later improved upon throughout Europe. Notably, a number of prototypes involving pedals were created by three notable Frenchmen, Pierre Lallement, Pierre Michaux and Ernest Michaux in the 1860’s.

In these models, the pedals were attached to a large front wheel.

Bicycle Shop St. George

James Starley – 1871

The next big leap in the evolution of the bicycle came in 1871 when the British Engineer James Starley invented the Penny Farthing. This bicycle involves a large, high wheel supported by a relatively small back wheel, pedals connected to the front wheel, and rubber tires.

The Penny Farthing can be considered the first really efficient bicycle, so much so that people would race them competitively. However, due to the height of the seat, falls were considerably dangerous. 

John Kemp Starley – 1885

With the invention of the bush-roller chain in 1880, it was 5 years later that John Kemp Starley improved the bicycle design with his Rover Safety bicycle.

What set this bicycle apart was uniform-sized wheels, a chain drive that connected the pedals to the rear wheel, and the ability to directly steer the front wheel.

Eventually, by the 1890’s, bicycles included pneumatic rubber tires; it was at this time when the conventional form of the modern-day bicycle was officially cemented.

Bicycles Unlimited – St. George Bicycle Shop

Bicycle Shop St. George

The technology involved in bicycles has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 19th century. At our St. George bicycle shop, you’ll find everything you need for an amazing ride along the beautiful bike trails in St. George, UT.

We offer a wide variety of bicycles for sale or for rent, and we also offer the services you need for repairs and both minor and major tune-ups. This includes:

  • Adjusting Gears
  • Adjusting Brakes
  • Check Derailleur Adjustments
  • Check Dropout/Derailleur Hanger Alignment
  • Checking the Chain
  • Check Bearings & Adjust
  • Check & torque fasteners & bolts
  • 30 Day Warranty of Service
  • Cleaning of Chain, Rear Cassette & Crankset
  • Clean/Detail Entire Bike

Contact us or come on into our St. George bicycle shop today!

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