From afar, a bicycle is nothing more than circles, triangles and lines. Up close, it’s a truly genius work of art, combining simple machines to something that can propel a human with a minimal energy input.
We have come a long way. Just a few years ago, little did we know that we could have GPS on our bikes, record the number of kilometers, fastest speed attained and yes, even count the calories we burn pedalling. Bikes seem to get lighter and better almost to the point of impossibility. Can you really imagine a self-powered contraption capable of catapulting you to 50kmh (fastest record is 130kmh)? Many are instrumental in the development of the greatest invention ever. Here we present you notable visionaries in the cycling world:
1. Baron Karl von Drais – If you know what a dandy horse is, then you know that it is the grandfather of all bicyles. A dandy horse is, imagine a bicycle, but without the pedals, chain and gears. It’s ok on flats, fun on downhills and totally useless on uphills.
2. Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement – They invented the velocipede, which by definition, means fast foot. Yes those clumsy looking big-front small-rear wheel setup which we could imagine being ridden by a gentleman with a tall tophat has been around since the 1860’s.
3. Eugene Meyer – Invented the penny-farthing bicycle, which was then called “ordinary bicycle” because there are no other kinds for comparison’s sake. Penny and farthing were British coins, used in comparison to the size of the 2 wheels, one bigger than the other. There’s no way you can picture the Victorian era without having the penny-farthing in it
4. James Starley – Considered as the father of the bicycle industry, he invented the differential gear, which up to this day, is employed in numerous machines including the car. He perfected the chain mechanism of the bicycle.
5. Harry John Lawson – Against the norm of having pedals on the front tire, employed a chain and used the pedal to power the rear wheel. The bicycle that resulted was called the safety bicycle, because of its relative ease of use, as opposed to the penny-farthing bikes.
6. John Kemp Starley – Nephew of James Starley, John invented the Rover, considered the first modern bike. The Rover company, has a direct link to the Land Rover of today. The rover company also made motorcycles and cars.
7. John Boyd Dunlop – Invented the pneumatic tires. Who knows, we may still be using wooden discs if it wasn’t for him.
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