story of the Bicycle
As people try to use less energy, and find alternatives to cars, more
and more people are buying, and riding, bicycles. But where did the
bicycle come from? Who invented this "velocipede"? .
You may be surprised to learn that the humble bicycle was
invented several years later than the railway locomotive! But the
two-wheeler has come a long way since the day it was invented by a
Kirkpatrick MacMillan, back (it is said) in 1839.
developed his bike from an older wheeled vehicle, called a
"hobby horse". This was a wooden horse with two wheels. The rider sat
on the horse, and pushed the vehicle along with his feet. It was not a
very fast or safe vehicle, since it had no steering
and no brakes.
Mad Pate, modified the hobby horse, by adding a system of articulated
bars. The rider could push the bars back and forwards with his feet,
and make the back wheel go round. He could also steer
the bike, as the
front wheel could be turned.
To demonstrate his invention, he cycled
60 miles to Glasgow! It must have been a terrible journey, on the roads
of the day! Pate's bike did not have rubber
tyres or springs.
Mad Pate was not recognised in his time,
but other people became interested in bicycles. Twenty-five years
later, a Frenchman called Pierre Lallemant designed and patented
the first bicycle
with rotary pedals; and in 1876, H.J.Lawson added another basic
such as rubber tyres and gears,
have appeared since then; but the basic bicycle has not
Since then the bicycle has had a
magnificent fortune. Today, it is probably the most common form of
transport in the world, especially in the Third World; and
non-polluting and easy to ride, it has a big future as the town vehicle
of tomorrow. Thanks Pate!
blacksmith makes things out of iron - steering
: means of
direction - brakes
brakes help a vehicle to stop - nicknamed
familiarly as - articulated
with joints - steer
: direct - - rubber
a slightly soft material used on the outside of car wheels - springs
make a vehicle more comfortable - to
to officially register an invention - drive
: traction -
aspects - gears
most modern bicycles have at least 10 gears
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The Story of the Bicycle
Comprehension: true or false?
Read the article and say whether these statements are true or false:.
railway locomotive was invented before the bicycle.
first bicycle was built in Scotland.
bicycle was developed from a wooden horse.
first bicycle was very difficult to steer.
preferred not to have rubber tyres for his bike.
pedals on Pate's bike went round and round.
Frenchman designed the first bike with rotary pedals.
Bicycles are very useful in the Third World.
bicycle has little future in Europe.
information: pair work
Imagine an interview between a journalist and
H.J.Lawson, in 1876.
CEFR level B2+.
Structurally this text is level B2; however its technical vocabulary takes it into the low C1 category.
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