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The boneshaker's success stimulated makers to devise new solutions and produce new models. The most active inventors were English: in 1869 the Coventry makers James Starley and William Hillman patented the "Ariel", a bicycle whose front wheel was considerably higher than the rear wheel. In order to promote their vehicle, they conceived of a singular event: they rode the 153 km between London and Coventry on their Ariel in one day, attracting the attention of the press. For several decades, the Ariel was the most common bicycle, also know as the "Ordinary". It was copied and modified by several makers. Made entirely of metal, the Ordinary was much lighter than its predecessors. The impressive front wheel diameter (which could be of up to three meters) increased the space covered with one complete turn of the pedals, but keeping one's balance after mounting, without running over pedestrians, was a demanding undertaking...


Fig.5 Racing bicycle. 1870-1880; Rudge. Iron. Made by the English firm Rudge, the bicycle has interesting accessories: a headlight signed "The Gem" and pedals signed "The Raleigh". The firm's trademark is engraved on the handlebar.



"Head over heels" was the typical fall from a bicycle: sudden braking blocked the Ordinary's front wheel, causing the cyclist, anchored to the pedals, to perform an acrobatic leap....

Beginning in 1870, it was decided in some European towns that in order to ride a bicycle one had to obtain a riding license. Hence, several riding schools were opened, where prospective cyclists could receive training for the riding tests.

In 1877, the Parisian Victor Renard built a bicycle, named grand-bi, whose front wheel diameter was three meters long. It weighed 65 kg and a six-foot ladder was required in order to mount. Nine and a half meters were covered with one full thrust of the pedals.

"Bicyclist's face" was an expression in use at the end of the 19th century. It indicated the anxious face of someone who was about to mount a high-wheeled bicycle, often more than one and a half meters tall, from which he could fall, with decidedly unpleasant effects.

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