1869/1870 Velocipede (Repro)

1869/1870 Velocipede (Repro)




Do people take a Velocipede seriously? The name’s as cumbersome as its design. Riding it is downright dangerous. But when it was originally made it was the world’s first steerable pedal cycle!

After that first decade of exclusivity – ridden only by gentlemen with sufficient funds and sense of adventure – velocipedes were adopted by working-class youths of the 1880s who bought up second-hand machines and terrorized Victorian roads.

Meanwhile, tricycles became the preserve of rich folks. Tricyclists went out on runs around Hyde Park, followed by tea. They looked down on the velocipede brigade, who raced competitively and drank beer.

It was very similar to the difference today between cars and motorcycles. The velocipede was the ‘motorcycle’ of its day.





After 1869, the design of the original French Michaud Velocipede was copied by bicycle makers everywhere. Velocipedes caught the public imagination. We were on the cusp of a transport revolution.

Inventors and manufacturers began to envisage the future …usually, as you can see below with this ice velocipede, with interesting results.












Firstly, please excuse me for taking this earliest bicycle design down to Kensington St in Brighton. The Brighton Lanes area, with its narrow streets and twittens, is the oldest part of the city. But Kensington St is best known for its modern graffiti. This boneshaker was crying out for an interesting photographic backdrop, and few other bicycles would do justice to Kensington St.


This is not an original Velocipede. It’s a reproduction. Of course, after the original Michaud, even the 1870’s velocipedes could be considered reproductions; but they were still manufactured over 120 years ago, while this one was presumably made in the last 40 years.


It’s not very rideable – there are no brakes. Though the brake is a very simple design, so easy to make and add if required. To see close-ups of the brake mechanism on another velocipede I used to own – PLEASE CLICK HERE


Also, the wheels are metal rather than wooden as was traditional for boneshakers; cartwheels are usually used.


So if you put on a pair of cartwheels and add a simple brake you’ll have a usable Velocipede.


Original models cost £2500 upwards. This is much cheaper – it would obviously cost much more to manufacture one than the price I want for it! So now you have the opportunity to own a piece of motoring history at a bargain price.


It’s a wonderful exhibition piece. It would look superb outside an antique shop or other business. Everywhere I go with a Velocipede, people stop and stare or come up to me to ask about it. This is the ultimate advertising medium.



(Now sold)

Published on April 22, 2009 at 6:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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