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.

While repairing a hobby horse, which had no pedals, the Michauxs had the idea of fitting an axle to the front wheel “like the crank handle of a grindstone” that could be turned by the rider’s feet. Later on, they fitted pedals to the axle. Children’s tricycles are still built with pedals in the front axle. The nickname Boneshaker is more a statement about the state of the roads in the 1800s than one about the vehicle itself. Roads being rutted and often passable only on horseback, combined with the lack of any suspension on the bike itself added up to a jarring experience for the rider. This bicycle would literally shake your bones about as you rode it.

Accession no. 1978G24

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