Hip Hip Hooray - The Bicycle Celebrates its 200th Birthday - Total Women's Cycling

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Hip Hip Hooray – The Bicycle Celebrates its 200th Birthday

Bottoms up! It's time to celebrate the glorious history of the bicycle

Can you believe the bicycle is 200 years old? We can’t either.

In Mannheim, Germany, on June 12, 1817, Karl Drais set off for the first time on his so-called “running machine”. Little did he know that his comical contraption would pave the way for a radical movement of freedom, liberation and oh yea, transport of course.

The bicycle is a symbol of hope for so many cultures as we’ve seen women of the middle-east rise up and pedal out in the face of injustice and discrimination. The bicycle has served not only as a means of transport, but companionship for riders across the globe. Today is the anniversary of the bicycle, so let’s take a ride down memory lane to see how the “running machine” evolved into the bicycles we know them to be today…

·         The first bike: June 12th, 1817, Germany – Karl Drais sets off on his so-called “running machine”, the basis for the subsequent development of the bicycle

·         Bicycle “democratised” UK mobility: 19th Century – the bicycle took the place of the stagecoach as the most successful vehicle, costing £20 compared to £1,900 for a horse. Therefore mobility became available to the broad mass of citizens

·         The Penny Farthing: 1830 – 1881 – James Starley, the father of the British cycling industry and the first bicycle manufacturer in the UK, invents the Penny Farthing (or high wheeler) – a bizarre shape that somebody suggested looked like a penny followed by a farthing

·         First folding bicycle: 1878  – Englishman William Henry James Grout (1839–1915) patented the world’s first “portable penny-farthing”. His bike can be looked at as a sort of ancestor of the modern folding bikes

·         First chain-driven bicycle: 1879  – Henry Lawson (1852–1925) patented in the UK

·         Safety bike is born: 1885 – John Kemp Starley (1855-1901) modelled the first “safety bike” with a diamond frame (the same shape that is still used nowadays)

·         First eBikes being developed: 1895 – several inventors applied for patents for the first bicycles with electric motors. However, they did not get off the ground due to the substantial weight of the electrically driven bikes and the lack of battery range

·         Bosch make dynamo bike light: 1923 – consisting of a dynamo and a headlamp; more than 20 million of these were manufactured between then and the 1960s

·         Bosch first eBike: 2009 – by 2012 Bosch eBike Systems startup had established itself as the European market leader in the premium segment

Despite seeing pedal bikes get lighter, stiffer and more expensive over the years, they’ve remained similar to the first of its kind. The future is certainly electric for the bicycle as were seeing more and more e-bikes hitting our streets and our trails.

So what better way to celebrate this monumental day than to ride your bicycle and remember the journey, heritage and pride it marries together.


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