German Inventor Karl von Drais is credited with developing the first bicycle. His machine, known as the "swiftwalker," it hit the road in 1817. This early bicycle had no pedals, and its frame was a wooden beam. The device had two wooden wheels with iron rims and leather-covered tires. As the name suggests, a rider walked on top of the bike with his feet leaving the ground during descents.

By the time the modern "safety" bicycle was developed in the late 1800s most frames were made with steel tubing instead of wood or cast iron. While the steel bicycles were quite strong they were also very heavy. It was not uncommon for a bicycle of that era to weigh in at over 80 pounds (36.28 kg.).

The velocipedes of the mid 1800s consisted of two wooden tires, a front fork, handlebars for steering, a saddle on wooden frame, and pedals on the axle of the front wheel. The velocipede also received a nickname, the "boneshaker." With the rider now completely mounted on the bicycle, he felt all of the bumps--the early velocipedes were not equipped for absorbing vibrations. It wasn't until the development of the pneumatic tire that this problem was effectively addressed. At around the same time the pneumatic tire was developed (1888), lighter materials began to be used for frames, improving the ride dramatically.

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