1817GermanyBaron Von Drais invents the "running machine" or Laufmaschine. Patented the following year. Known in various forms as : Draisine, Draisienne, Velocipede. English version was the Hobby Horse (Denis Johnson). All have two, in-line wheels and the ability to steer.
Hand Drive1821EnglandLouis Gompertz adds a hand-driven, ratchet mechanism to the front wheel of a Hobby Horse but the innovation, as with Drais' was never really followed up.
1839-1840ScotlandKirkpatrick Macmillan is traditionally credited with a machine in which power was supplied to the back wheel via rods connected to treadle-type pedals. Thomas McCall marketed copies; an 1845 version is in the Dumfries Museum. It is questionable whether significant progress resulted from either.
Rear-Wheel-Drive Bicycle1843FranceAlexandre Lefebvre is credited with a rear-drive machine; he took it to America twenty years later and it still exists in the "History San Jose" museum (the earliest extant bicycle?).
Pneumatic Tire1845EnglandR. W. Thompson invents the pneumatic tire but with no commercial follow-up.
Treadle Drive1847ScotlandGavin Dalzell builds a two-wheeled hobbyhorse with a treadle-drive, possibly copied from the Macmillan design.
Crank-Driven 4-Wheeler1851EnglandWillard Sawyer exhibits his four-wheeled, crank-driven vehicle at the Great Exhibition and subsequently becomes established as a Velocipede manufacturer.
Boneshaker Bicycle1864FranceJ. Townsend Trench documents his purchase of a velocipede from the Michaux family. Possibly the first record of a "production" front wheel, pedal-driven bicycle (but note that it was not presented untill 1895). This style became known as the "Boneshaker". Historians still debate the claim of Pierre Lallement that he had previously invented the first pedal-driven machine.
1866USALallement, now in the USA, gets the backing of an investor, James Carroll, and their patent application is granted; probably the world's first public record of the pedal-powered two-wheeler.
1870EnglandJames Starley products the "Ariel" High Wheeler (aka "Ordinary" or "Penny Farthing"). Later versions had front wheel sizes of upto 5 feet.
Wire-Spoked Wheel1870EnglandW. H. J. Grout patents the radially spoked, nipple adjusted bicycle wheel (unlike prior load-bearing wheels). Some credit Meyer with this design two years previosly.
Ball Bearings1872GermanFriedrich Fischer first mass-produces steel ball bearings, patented by Jules Suriray in 1869.
Caliper Brake1876EnglandBrowett and Harrison patent an early caliper brake.
Differential Gear1877EnglandJames Starley patent a differential gear; probably the first for a bicycle but the principle was not new.
Internal Hub Gearings1878EnglandScott and Phillott patent the first practicable epicyclic change-speed gear fitted into the hub of a front-driving bicycle.
Folding Highwheeler1878EnglandGrout patents a folding High Wheeler, the first "portable" bicycle.
1879EnglandHenry J. Lawson patents a rear wheel, chain-driven safety bicycle, the "Bicyclette" (his earlier models were lever driven).
Chain1880EnglandThomas Humber adapts the block chain for use with his range of bicycles.
Safety Bicycle1885EnglandJohn Kemp Starley (James Starley's nephew) markets the revolutionary Safety Bicycle (the "Rover") with a chain/rear-sprocket drive and tangentially-spoked, similar sized wheels. Includes many of the major features of modern bicycles.
Seamless Tubing1886GermanyThe Mannessman brothers are credited with the invention of the process to manufacture seamless steel tubing.
1888ScotlandCommercial development of the pneumatic bicycle tire by Dr. John Boyd Dunlop.
1890sFranceCycles Aluminium becomes one of the earliest manufacturers of an aluminium bicycle.
Derailleur1896EnglandE. H. Hodgkinson patents a 3-speed...