Advert for the Abingdon Works Company, bicycle parts
Printer: Iliffe & Son
Medium: Print on paper
The earliest bicycle was a wooden scooter-like machine called the 'celerifere', invented in France in the 1790s by the Comte Mede de Sivrac. In 1816, a German baron, Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun, invented a model with a steering bar attached to the front wheel. He called it the 'Draisienne' and displayed it at the Paris Exhibition of April 1818.
But the real development of the modern bicycle began in the 1860s. Pierre and Ernest Michaux, father-and-son carriage makers, invented the 'velocipede', which had both handlebars and foot pedals. Its front wheel was larger than the one at the back; both, however, were made of wood. This meant that riding a velocipede was a very uncomfortable experience, and led to them being satirically described as "boneshakers". The key to making bicycles more comfortable was thought to reside in increasing the size of the front wheel. This led to the development of the 'safety bicycle', which had rubber tyres to smooth progress and was stable in motion.