tracing history modern bicycles

Tracing the History of Modern Bicycles

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At Madsen Cycles, we’re proud of the cargo bike materials and accessories we carry for both individuals and families alike. We have a number of great family bicycle options available, with a unique spin on the cargo bike format that’s been popular for many years.

Cargo bikes, along with several other bicycle inventions decades ago, were part of a rapid evolution of bicycles that began over two centuries ago. Let’s look at some of the history of the bicycle, including its move to America and some of the technological advances made after this point.


What we know as the modern bicycle can trace its roots back to the very early 1800s, when a man named Baron von Sauerburn created a device called the velocipede. The velocipede was made up of a basic seat, armrest and frame designed by von Sauerburn, and it quickly became popular all over Europe, particularly in France.

Unfortunately, some of the early popularity of the velocipede was lost when riders figured out it was somewhat difficult to operate. Not too many years later, though, the theme was brought to America.

American Tinkering and High Wheel

Once the theme came to America, various parties on this side of the pond began tinkering with various elements of the velocipede’s design. The primary goal was making a device truly capable of legitimate transport.

Because of this, inventors cycled through several versions of what would become today’s modern bicycle. One of the most well-known attempts of this day was the High Wheel bike, which came about due to common understanding that a larger wheel would provide a greater traveling distance. But this came with separate issues, such as seats set so high that the driver could easily tip over. But with time, the wheel was shrunk and fastened to a basic metal frame, plus given rubber tires and shock absorbers to make riding safer and simpler.

Expanded Uses

By the turn of the 20th century, the bicycle was clearly regarded as a reliable transportation option. It began to be used in everything from recreational riding to business deliveries and even sport.

In the very late 1800s, the League of American Wheelmen was formed. Over time, its membership would grow to over 150,000 members.

Rapid Tech Advances and Cargo Bikes

Around this same period, there were numerous technological advances related to the bicycle to fit various individual needs. One such advance was the cargo bike, which was designed to carry larger loads than typical bicycles. These bikes have retained their function even up through today, where they’re regularly used for deliveries or similar services in crowded cities – they can actually be faster than vehicle deliveries in certain extremely busy areas.

For more on the history of bicycles, or to learn about any of our family bike options, speak to the staff at Madsen Cycles today.

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