Velocipede / Boneshaker

No further technical progress was made in bicycle design until the 1860s, when the Michaux family, makers of components for the carriages in Paris, modified the hobby horse by attaching cranks and pedals to the front, steered wheel, allowing the machine to be propelled with the rider’s feet ‘off the ground’.

This machine was extremely successful and large numbers of Velocipedes were manufactured in continental Europe, Great Britain and in America.

The limitation of the velocipede was its relatively low gearing, so that each revolution of the pedals only achieved a single revolution of the driven wheel, typically of about 1m. diameter, giving a development of 3.14m. (or 40” English gearing measurement).

Efforts to increase the gearing by increasing the wheel diameter were limited by the materials used.

Velocipede wheels were manufactured from ash or hickory wood with a metal rim, as for a carriage wheel.

This type of wheel could only be increased to about 1.25 m. before it became not strong enough or too heavy for its purpose. Machines of this type are called ‘transitional bicycles’ and very few have survived because of the fragility of the driven wheel.

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