English-built 'boneshaker' bicycle

1865-1870 in England

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

English-built boneshaker bicycle, c. 1865-1870. The 'velocipede', or 'boneshaker' as it became popularly known, was the first bicycle with pedals (and an uncomfortable ride). It was first developed in France by Pierre Michaux, Pierre Lallement and the Olivier brothers in the 1860's, first commercially produced by the Michaux Company, and eventually mass-produced in the UK from 1869. However it is highly likely that some of the earlier French bicycles found their way into England and served as models for local craftsmen to replicate. This bicycle in probably an example of this. The design closely follows the Michaux blueprint, but its crude construction (of the iron frame and wooden wheels) would suggest the work of a local blacksmith and wheelwright. This bicycle was donated to the Science Museum by the granddaughter of John Boyd Dunlop, inventor of the pneumatic tyre.


Road Transport
Object Number:
McClintock, J.W.

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