1868 ca. Velocipede Boneshaker

The true origin of the cranked, pedal-powered bicycle is obscure. Possibly the first was made in Pierre Michaux's shop in Paris in 1861.

1875 ca. Mergomobile

This rare example of an early French child's bicycle is built on a wooden frame with small cart wheels.

1879 Harvard Highwheeler

This Harvard highwheeler, with its 51" front wheel, was made by the Byliss Thomas Co., Coventry, England, and sold by Cunningham & Co., Boston, Mass. The highwheeler craze began with the 1870 Starley and Hillman Ariel Highwheelers.

1885 ca. American Star Safety Highwheeler

George Pressey invented the Star Safety in 1880. In an attempt to make a safer bicycle he altered the ordinary's configuration so that the small wheel was now in the front handling the steering, while the rider sat above the rear drive wheel.

1885 ca. Quadrant Tricycle

Tricycles were socially acceptable because they could be ridden in everyday attire, were more comfortable to ride than a highwheeler, and did not require full-time attention to balance.

1887 ca. Safety Bicycle

Because the highwheel bicycles had tricky handling characteristics, many attempts were made to build a safety bicycle. In its final form, with equal diameter wheels giving more stable and predictable handling

1896 ca. Pierce Special Racer

George N. Pierce, of Pierce-Arrow automobile fame, began producing bicycles in 1896.

1898 ca. Nichols Ladies Safety

William Nichols of Waltham, MA, built this safety bicycle just before the end of the 19th century. Its dropped top tube frame design was specifically for skirted female riders, and its pneumatic tires gave a comfortable ride.