Early forms of cycles, late 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The cycles shown are the Otto bicycle, the Rover Safety bicycle, Singer's Special Safety, the King of Clubs, the Humber tricycle and Singer's Straight Steerer convertible. The Rover and Singer's Special Safety show the move to a design based on two wheels of the same size. Although safer, they were still far more uncomfortable to ride than the high-wheel 'ordinary', or penny-farthing, bicycles until rubber tyres were introduced. The 'King of Clubs' had solid rubber tyres and provided a smoother ride. It was popular with affluent young men and had its heyday in the 1880s. Tricycles became popular with women and men of shorter stature who found the high-wheel bicycles difficult to mount and dismount.