Today in (Sports) History #10 - Bike was invented (February 17, 1818)

in history •  3 years ago  (edited)

Today was a very important day in History – not only for Sports but also for technology and science – on February 17, 1818 the first bike was introduced to the world. It is still the basis for all current bicycles and motorbikes.  

The history of the bicycle begins in the early 19th century with an invention by Baron Karl Drais, an aristocrat with visionary brains which made him one of the most creative German inventors of the century. He also was involved in politics and supported the failed revolution of 1848 and became a professor of mechanics.   

Karl Drais invented the Laufmaschine ("running machine"), later called the draisine which incorporated the two-wheeler principle – but why?  

In 1812 bad weather caused oat crops to fail resulting in horses starving. This mad Karl to think about how to move fast without horses. His first invention was a four-wheeled vehicle but went nowhere. In 1815 a huge eruption of a volcano in Indonesia resulted in a European summer with snow in 1816. Prize for oats were high, horses died, and he got back to work on his previous idea.   

This time, he invented a two-wheeler on a frame that looks similar to the bikes nowadays – but without a chain drive and pedals. One had to drive and stop with feet like a scooter – also no brakes included.   

Karl died in 1851. After his death, many creative people improved the two-wheeler:

• 1861: Ernest Michaux added pedals on the front wheel as well as brakes.   

• 1869: James Starley and William Hillman produced bicycles with a small back wheel and huge front wheel. 

• 1879: Harry John Lawson added the chain transmission. 

• 1885: Gottlieb Daimler added an engine and created the first motorbike.     

Sources: Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Florence, Italy), Baden-Baden City Guide (Germany), Wikipedia,, Wired  

To see what happened in Sports History already - check the links below:

February 16: NHL lockout

February 15: Olympic gold twice

February 14: Baseball hero

February 13: Golf Scandal

February 12: Team Canada Ice Hockey

February 11: Mike Tyson knocked out

February 10: Mark Spitz Birthday

February 9: Volleyball invented

February 8: First NFL Draft

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Very interesting article, thanks for sharing!

It was an amazing invention as it allowed people to travel much more efficiently under their own power. An important innovation was the pneumatic tyre to make it more comfortable on bumpy roads.

Yes agreed - they did compete with the railroad but as you say it was a travel opp to use your own power

Trains were a different matter really, but they were another way to enable people to travel long distances. The bicycle is still changing lives in Africa and other places. I just wish I could cycle to work, but it's much too far at the moment.

True again - i biked once to work, was fun! In London tons of commute bikers I see all the time - and they drive dangerous style.

And again a very informative post! Keep on going!

Thanks so much for the encouraging feedback

great history post, the first bike in the first picture seems pretty cool!

I wished i would have sat on it already - there were some recent tries to sue the ancient concept and bike through a forrest in Germany

ahh these tries to recreate something of ancient concept are in my opinion way too good and funny, not only we can be closer to the ancient culture but we can understand better how some people were far ahead from their era

An incredible invention, never goes out of style and in these times of bad economy resumes its boom, congratulations on the work of research my friend @uwelang excellent post

Thanks my friend! I only wished we would have not so many 1% voters out there.....