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10-Oct-2017 09:40

Vehicles for human transport that have two wheels and require balancing by the rider date back to the early 19th century.The first means of transport making use of two wheels arranged consecutively, and thus the archetype of the bicycle, was the German draisine dating back to 1817.The dandies, the Corinthians of the Regency, adopted it, and therefore the poet John Keats referred to it as "the nothing" of the day.Riders wore out their boots surprisingly rapidly, and the fashion ended within the year, after riders on pavements (sidewalks) were fined two pounds.Nevertheless, Drais' velocipede provided the basis for further developments: in fact, it was a draisine which inspired a French metalworker around 1863 to add rotary cranks and pedals to the front-wheel hub, to create the first pedal-operated "bicycle" as we today understand the word.

However, the evidence connecting this with Mac Millan is weak, since it is unlikely that the artisan Mac Millan would have been termed a gentleman, nor is the report clear on how many wheels the vehicle had.

Johnson's machine was an improvement on Drais's, being notably more elegant: his wooden frame had a serpentine shape instead of Drais's straight one, allowing the use of larger wheels without raising the rider's seat.

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