First a couple of short videos illustrating the development of the bicycle during the 19th century. The first film was made in 1915 just under 100 years from the time the first contraption, the draisine was invented. The draisine looks a proper handful to ride. Reminded me a bit of some of the features on the original Raleigh Choppers. The handling of the two probably did not differ much either.
The subtitles are in Dutch. Here they are in English.
1. The draisine was invented only a century ago, in 1818 by Baron Drais de Sauerbrun.
2. The vehicle that lies between the draisine and the 1850 bicycle has an improved steering wheel and a fitted brake.
3. In 1863, Pierre Lallement invented pedals that worked on the front wheel.
4. Around 1868, a third wheel was added. Although these tricycles were heavier than the two-wheelers, they were safer.
5. Between 1867 and 1870, various improvements were made, including the increased use of rubber tyres.
6. In 1875, following an invention by the engineer Trieffault, the frame was made of hollow pipes.
7. Following the fashion of the day, the front wheel was made as large as possible.
8. In 1878, Renard created a bicycle with a wheel circumference of more than 7 feet. Just sitting down on one of these was an athletic feat!
9. At the beginning of 1879, Rousseau replaced the large front wheel with a smaller one, and the chain was introduced on the front wheel for driving power.
10. The bicycle of today.
The second film a British Pathe production narrates in clipped pronunciation the birth of the bike from the ‘hobby horse period’ to the heady ‘shorts and sports days’ of 1937.
And so aptly onto the ‘any old thing of modern youth’. Here’s one more (bit longer) video with twenty bikes that push the invention onto present times. Some look as hard to handle as the draisine and no more practicable than the big wheeled ordinaries. Huh! So much for progress ehh?