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By JCS Bauer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us not be aware that we are soon approaching the 200 year anniversary of the first two-wheeled vehicle being invented. Bicycles have been an important part of our lives and cultures for a long time now and almost all of us have learned to ride a bike at some point in our lives. As learning to ride a bike is one of the biggest milestones we can reach as children, these two-wheeled devices serve as important symbols of rites of passage and we should celebrate their historical significance. While there has been some dispute over who invented the bicycle, there is no denying its importance in the development of our modern transportation devices.

The year 1418 saw the building of the first human-powered land vehicle. This really kicked off the development of automobiles as we know them to be today. This vehicle has four wheels and moved through the connection of rope connecting via gears on wheels. This progressed in 1493 when Leonardo Da Vinci sketched what appears to be a primitive version of a bicycle and only just surfaced in 1974. Interestingly, an age test revealed that these images were a hoax and led to a debate over who was the original inventor of the bicycle.

Comte de Sivrac is also a man credited with coming up with an ingenious two-wheeled vehicle and was said to have built a ‘celerifer’ in 1791. This was hobby horse that worked on two wheels instead of a rocker. This is now also considered to be a hoax and its significance in the development of the bicycle we know today was removed from the history books after being debunked in 1976.

The earliest version of the bicycle was finally credited to being invented by Karl Drais, although it initially went under the name of running machine, velocipede, Draisienne and dandy horse. It was created in a desperate response to the widespread starvation and slaughtering of horse that was caused by a crop failure the year before. Its front wheel was steerable and this was the first appearance in the history of the application of a two-wheel vehicle principles. This basic idea is what we still use as basics to cycling and motorcycling today although back in the day people were too afraid to lift their feet off of the ground and used to propel themselves forward through pushing their feet off of the ground. These velocipedes were soon banned after their invention in the year 1817 as they took up space on the pathway and could not balance on the roads at the time.

From this point on there were a whole host of improvements made to Karl Drais’s initial designs. In 1863 the ‘Bone Shaker’ was created; made from stiff and firm materials that allowed people to ride over cobblestones easily. In 1870 the penny farthings had their pale although were unpopular due to their seat being so high off of the ground. Mass production in the 1890’shelped to make bicycles a practical form of transportation for the working man and gave families more accessibility in terms of leisure.  We have also created a petrol fuelled bicycle, the motorcycle, in 1885 which only adds to the spender and range of impressive adjustments seen from the earlier and more primitive version of the bicycle we have discussed earlier. Today, we are constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to the efficiency of bicycles, while the basics introduced centuries ago still act as base features.

While it may not be something our ancestors deemed necessary, if you do own a motorcycle be sure to insure it and compare cheap motorcycle insurance prices prior to doing so.