J K Starley, cycle engineer, on an early Rover cycle, c 1870s-1879.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
John Kemp Starley (1854-1901) was the English cycle engineer responsible for bringing together the main features of the modern bicycle, wheels of equal size and solid rubber tyres and gears. Although the Ordinary, or Penny Farthing, bicycle was popular from early the 1870s to late the 1880s, it was unstable and difficult to mount and dismount. The availability of better materials and technology improved bicycle design.