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The Inventor of the Bicycle

The bicycle as we know it came together from the innovations of many inventors, such as the inventor of the roller chain, and first person to put a crank on a Dandy Horse, the first person to invent pneumatic tires, and the first person to adapt ball bearings to bicycles wheels.

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But enough of these features came together in one machine in 1885 to form a device we would recognize as a bicycle.  It was built by John Kemp Starley of England.  John moved to the big city, Coventry England, to work for his uncle, James Starley.  James was an inventor, and was in the sewing machine business, had perfected the penny farthing high wheel bike, and had invented the first tricycle, which was sold as the Rover.

John Starley built an improved Rover, which was a two wheeler with a chain drive on the rear wheel, equal sized wheels, diamond shaped tubular frame, tangential spokes,  ball bearings in wheels and cranks, and pneumatic tires. It was a truly modern bicycle.  The photo below is of John Starley’s Rover of 1885.  Other early bikes were Isaac Johnson’s folding frame bike, and Harmon Moise’s bike with a freewheel, both of which came after Starley’s Rover.

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The Rover company also experimented with motorcycles, and also started a car company.  The Rover Motor Car Company went on to build Rover cars, which run from luxury sedans to the famous Land Rover and Range Rover.

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