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The Birth of the Modern Bicycle 1893-6

Updated on February 27, 2012
1895 bike
1895 bike
1898 duo bike
1898 duo bike
1899 Female bike-no bar across -easy access for bulky dresses
1899 Female bike-no bar across -easy access for bulky dresses
1902 bike
1902 bike
3-gear details
3-gear details
The inventor
The inventor
The bridge and its inspiration
The bridge and its inspiration
1903 gearbox
1903 gearbox
The new, flexible seat
The new, flexible seat
The seat of a few ounces
The seat of a few ounces

Great devices we use daily without much thought always began with someone at some point in time. The bicycle you ride in a race, up a mountain, along a trail today was born in 1897. Prior to this date, nearly all bicycles were of the high wheeler types where the pedal was attached directly to the wheel. The bikes were visually different with their huge 55-inch front wheel for faster speeds and its much small rear wheel. This sort of bike required the user to pedal 121 revolutions per minute to reach 20 mph. The High wheel bikes were very common from the 1880's, some bikes began to use a chain that drove the rear wheel by the 1887-9. These bikes were heavy and their seats were uncomfortable.

Enter Mikael Pedersen, who lived in England. He was an avid bicycler who rode up to 5000 miles a year, who had found many faults with the bicycle, a toy reserved for the rich (a bike cost 4 pounds. The average wage was 1.5 pounds a week). He found the seat to be very uncomfortable and heavy, and created a new seat made of small strands of rope. He was also unhappy with the frame most bikes had. Then, one day, probably in 1893-4, he rode across the Whipple-Murphy bridge in Dursley glancing at the structure, he stopped, and it dawned on him to use the similar geometric design for it was light and strong for his new bike tubular frame that weighed around 15-19 lbs, which was light for bikes. The seat was strung within the frame with leather straps and was flexible. Riding this bike was comfortable, not rigid. Of course, the 24" wheels were new and the first 2-3 speed gear boxes appeared, which resemble to today's bikes. The bike was popular with racing.

With the help of backers, who believed in his new bike, the company was formed and created production bikes starting in 1896. As the bike became popular, production increased to 30 bikes a week. The first bikes had no gears, it was not until 1903 that the first 3-gear boxes appeared. He went on to create a racing bike that weighed only 10 lbs. All of the standard functions of today's bike were present in the 1903 models-hand brakes, tube frame, standard sprocket and 2-3 gears, switched by a lever.

Mikael began to lose interest and by 1917, his small bike company stopped making them, although others made copies of them. It is estimated that maybe 8000 were produced, other sources indicate 30,000. He went on to design other things that were of lesser importance and he faded away with age. He died in 1929.

Like Henry Ford who took the car to the next level, Mikael did the same for the bicycle!


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago


    • profile image

      khmohsin 6 years ago

      Very nice to see this information .

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 6 years ago from Olney

      Very interesting hub. Thank you.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      Riding bikes is an enjoyable exercise, however I believe the 1902 bike would be a challenge. The design seems a little uncomfortable. Thanks for the history lesson.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago

      I often wondered where did the modern bike originate from.

    • RecruitmentTips profile image

      RecruitmentTips 6 years ago from Melbourne

      Great photo's... That '1898 duo bike' must be designed as some sort of punishment :) That guy better watch his beard!

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago

      The history also helps!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas


      I'm bicycle bound these days. They're my only form of transportation at present, and it's also rather healthy to use that mode of trans!


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