Bicycle HistoryAppearance of a safety bicycle

Appearance of a safety bicycle

The introduction of chain drive helped to overcome the deficiencies of penny-farthing (high-wheel). Pedals were fastened on a separate shaft with the chain transmission to rear wheel, so that it made several rounds after one pedalling cycle, i.e. normal pedalling resulted in quite reasonable speed. Thus, the bicycle went back to smaller wheels and lower seat. It prevented danger of falling that was present in penny-farthing, and in English-speaking world, this bike type became known as safety bicycle (to distinguish it from penny-farthing).

There were another four significant changes accompanying the introduction of chain drive and altered frame:

  • Inflatable pneumatic tyres (John Dunlop, 1888), which reduced rolling resistance and shaking on uneven road.
  • Massive use of ball bearings (e.g. German manufacturer Fichter&Sachs or F&S).
  • Invention of freewheel, which allowed resting feet in between pedalling.
  • Wide use of mechanical brakes.

These five inventions (including chain drive) converted bicycle into easily operated and comfortable vehicle. At those times – around the 1890s-1900s − bicyles became widespread in the world and large factories were established in all ceveloped countries. Among other things, import bicycles also reached to more advanced parts of the Russian Empire, including in Estonia (which was until 1917-18 the part of Imperial Russia).