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High-wheel Bicycle

In 1870, James Starley and William Hillman, employees of a velocipede factory in Coventry, England, combined gearless direct drive, a steel frame, and a very large, wire-spoked front wheel to produce a fast, light bicycle that rolled easily over roads. The rider sat directly over the pedals, adding thrust and reducing muscular effort compared with the velocipede of the late 1860s, on which the saddle was placed well back of the front wheel.

Members of high-wheel bicycle clubs socialized and promoted the idea that bicycles could replace railroads and horses. They organized tours on rural roads and gathered information about routes, road conditions, and hotel accommodations. The League of American Wheelmen, a national bicyclists' organization, lobbied for access to streets and better road surfaces. Local clubs sponsored amateur races held on dirt tracks.

 



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