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Bicycles...getting a handle on technology

Bicycle Slide Show

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find out what is so ordinary about these bicycles find out what is so ordinary about these bicycles find out what is so ordinary about these bicycles find out what is so ordinary about these bicycles

Standard Columbia
Standard Columbia: 1877.
First American Bicycle

manufactured by the Pope Manufacturing Co.
(acquired from Veteran Wheelmen's Association, Philadelphia.)

Facile-Londone bicycle
Facile-Londone: 1878.
Patented by John Beale. Manufactured by Ellis & Co., London.
(acquired from Veteran Wheelmen's Association, Philadelphia.)

The Ordinary Bicycle

The Standard Columbia and Facile-Londone bicycles are an example of the "Ordinary" bicycle. The ordinary bicycle evolved from bicycle makers trying to improve the velocipede's lack of speed and comfort. These makers realized that with a larger front wheel, riders could travel farther with one rotation of the pedals. The back wheel was reduced in size for stability. Better suspension with metal-spoked rubberized wheels offered added comfort.

Although speed and comfort were improved, safety was lacking. Due to poor braking mechanisms, many riders had "headers" which were accidents that propelled them headfirst over handlebars.

It was the Ordinary, or Highwheeler, that the word "bicycle" was first used. The word "bicycle" means highwheeler in French. The nickname Ordinary was used by the English to distinguish between the Ordinary, highwheeler bicycle from the next generation of "Safety" bicycles that would be invented in the future.


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Note: The objects pictured above are part of The Franklin Institute's protected collection of objects. The images are The Franklin Institute. All rights are reserved.

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