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Making Cycles: 1830–1850

British mechanics keep the art of cycle building alive.

After the decline of the hobbyhorse in the 1820s, a handful of builders and mechanics continued working on this form of wheeled transportation. Most of their improved vehicles were awkward multi-wheelers propelled by pedals or treadles attached to levers and cranks. A few, like those built by Willard Sawyer in the 1850s, were finely crafted machines (810203) that enjoyed some popularity among the wealthy class.


Willard Sawyer quadricycle, 1852

Elegant or awkward, these vehicles and their makers contributed new knowledge and skills to cycle design.