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Bicycle facts

One billion bicycles

Penny farthingThere are about a billion bicycles in the world, twice as many as motorcars. Almost 400 million bicycles are in China.

Although Leonardo da Vinci drew some rough sketches of a contraption that looked like a bicycle, the Frenchman De Sivrac built the first bicycle-type vehicle in 1690. It was referred to as a hobbyhorse. However, it did not have pedals. Those were added in 1840 by a Scottish blacksmith, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who is credited with inventing the real bicycle.

On a penny-farthing bicycle, one pedal gave the wheel one turn. A lot of pedalling was needed to get around! With the advent of gears, bicycles could move as fast as cars.

Air-filled tyres were used on bicycles before they were used on motorcars.

The bicycle as we know it today – with two wheels of the same size – looks almost exactly the same as one from 1900.

The first five-seat bicycle, the quindem, was built in 1940.

The world speed record on a bicycle is held by John Howard, Olympic Cyclist and Ironman triathlon winner from the US. In 1985 he reached 245,08 km/h (152.2 mph), cycling in the slipstream of a specially designed car.