Rover 'safety' bicycle, 1885.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The design of the present-day bicycle has remained much the same since John Kemp Starley (1854-1901) designed this Rover safety bicycle, the first embodiment of the modern vehicle. The earlier so-called ordinary bicycle was popular from the early 1870s to the late 1880s, but was unstable due to its large front wheel and small back wheel. With the availability of better materials and improved technology, a safer design of bicycle was produced. Because it was much lower and more stable than the ordinary bicycle, it became known as the safety bicycle. The wheels were almost the same size as each other, and it featured a chain drive to the rear wheel.