I would like to dedicate this article to a great sportsperson. Please read first!
If you look up the history books they will most likely tell you that a Frenchman, Pierre Michaux and his son, Ernest were the first to invent the bicycle, sometime in the 1860's. However, there is a conflicting view by many historians who claim there is in fact evidence the origin of the bicycle dates back further. There has been agreement that Ernest was the first to invent the pedal and crank in 1861.
The first really efficient bicycle was the 'Penny Farthing'. it was referred to as the 'High' or 'Ordinary' bicycle. It was invented in 1871 by Briton James Starley. Previous to this there were other models of cycles such as the 'Hobbyhorse' and the 'Velocipede'. These models of cycle were of course soon after superseded by the Penny Farthing.
The bicycle dates from 1869 which would indicate the French 'Velocipede' was not as a bicycle, as it was pre 1869.
In 1877 John Starley and William Sutton, together formed a bicycle company. This is the first known company who's sole purpose was to manufacture bicycles.
To save myself 10000 words, I will now be a little more summarative and reader friendly, to deliver the remaining bicycle facts that I have collected.
1870-1890: The Ordinary High Wheel Bicycle
New features included tangent spokes and ball bearings.
1880's & 1890's: The Safety Bicycle.
New features included the chain drive and pneumatic tires.
Bicycles were mainly made for children's needs due to the automobile becoming a more efficient transport.
The derailleur was developed in France between 1900 and 1910. it was first banned by the European racing community. However, some time down the track they allowed it. It produced much faster race times.
There were also improved (multi-gearing) systems.
In the mid 1900's, North America had two main bicycle types.
Over the last 50 years of bicycle history there have been two things that stand out in the ongoing development of the bicycle.
The many added features such as lights, bells, springer forks, speedometer, lighter frames, thinner tires, hand brakes and hub gearing just to name a few. These add-ons became very popular to the American public in the 1950's.
Other features include generator-powered headlamps and taillights, safety reflectors, kickstands and frame-mounted tire pumps.
The other is technology, and in this vast world of technology, all I can say is that bicycle manufacturers rely on computer technology to keep the bicycle improving, year after year.
Also in the 1980's a Swedish company developed a bicycle made entirely of plastic. It was a flop. For reasons I do not know.
Over recent years there has been three types of bicycles developed, the racer, mountain and hybrid. All three are used in various competitive sports, just like car racing.
This article would not be complete unless I mention two things, 'Tour De France' and 'Phil Anderson'.
I would like to dedicate this article to the greatest cyclist of all kind!