Dandy Horse - The Forerunner of the Bicycle

Before arrival of modern bicycle designs, many inventors tried to devise plans to create human-powered transportation devices that could be easy to use, lightweight, easily maintained, and able to efficiently covert power of our muscles into faster movement. The first example of the precursor to the modern bicycle arrived in in early 19th century Germany, where Baron Karl Drais and Otto Schillinger created the human-powered vehicle that utilized two wheels. Their wooden design was named Laufmaschine (translated from German as “running machine”), and they secured German patent in January of 1818. This design quickly became popular across the Europe under the names of velocipede (which featured one very large and one very small wheel) and Draisine or Draisienne in France. Dandy Horse did not have chain mechanism that converted rotation of the feet into motion, but it relied on users to sit on the seat, control the front wheel with the small handlebar and propel the bicycle by reaching with their feet to the ground where they could either walk or run. When the user achieved desired speed, all he needed to do to continue traveling is to lift his feet from the ground to rest a little and then continue walking or running to maintain speed.

Picture Of Dandy Horse

Dandy Horse never found widespread popularity because of several factors, most notably because the need for every frame to be adjusted to the leg size of the user who had to be able to reach the ground at precise distance that allowed most relaxed travel. French inventor Nicéphore Niépce created a height-adjustable seat for dandy horse in 1818, but his design which he named “'velocipede” was never adopted by any company that produced dandy horses in large quantities.

The fate of dandy horse remained in limbo for 40 years after that moment, and its fate was almost totally sealed when first bicycles that utilized rotary crank, drive chain and pedals appeared on the market around in 1860s. This invention created by Pierre Michaux, Pierre Lallement and the Olivier brothers enabled French population to start purchasing much more efficient and easy to use bicycles that were for the first time created in mass quantities by Michaux Company. Even though this first modern bicycle design was made entirely from wood and it would shake the users violently (which awarded it the nickname “boneshaker”), dandy horse bicycles faded from use completely.

Today, dandy horse bicycles can be almost always only be seen in use in historical documentaries or films whose story is set between years of 1815 and 1860s.