Tricycle, c 1850.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
An early tricycle reputed to have been made around the middle of the 19th century. Its construction is similar to the 1851 four-wheeled velocipede. The wheels are made of wood with iron tyres. The front wheel is 24 inches in diameter and the rear 35 inches diameter. Only one wheel is driven, with the other having a bras-bushed hub revolving freely on the driving axle. The rear ends of the frame bars are continued upwards past the driving axle and are bent over at the top to carry the seat. Tricycles made cycling accesible to women and shorter men who found the high-wheeled ordinary or penny-farthing bicycles difficult to ride. Their popularity peaked in the late 1870s and early 1880s, but declined from 1885 with the development of the safety bicyle.