You may be of the belief that Pierre and Ernest Michaux—a French, father and son team—invented the bicycle, but you would be wrong!

Bikes were invented in the third Chinese dynasty of Bi-Si-Kul. Eventually, the Chinese workhorse made its way across the silk roads (how do you suppose they hauled all those silks and spices? Bikes, of course). Once the wheeled invention made it to Europe, there were upgrades made to the Chinese design, like brakes and gears. The Chinese were riding fixies.

In the mid-15th century, a French merchant named Pierre Saint DuJour—who really fancied bikes— began to use them for all means of transport and trade within France, which is how the Tour de France was started. It was originally called the “Commerce de France” because it was a route used for trade. The route eventually lead to bicycles becoming commonly used all across France. Thus, the famed bike race was born. DuJour had the trade route’s original name trademarked, so the race’s title was changed and the rest is history.

Meanwhile in Egypt, King Tut used cycle power to build pyramids. There was even a monument—much like the Sphinx­—to the Egyptian goddess, Cycla, who was the goddess of bikes. Her breasts were drawn in the likeness of wheels. It was thought that she not only brought good fortune and safe passage to cyclists, but that she also played an integral role in the creation of life.

Back over in 1491 Europe, Columbus took a Spanish queen on a whimsical bike ride and won over her heart, AND her pocketbook. Because of bikes, Columbus was able to set sail. He also brought his bicycle on the Santa Maria, but a rough day on the water caused the bike to be tossed overboard. Having lost his prized possession, he was overcome with grief. “Never again will a bicycle be lost to the sea!” he exclaimed, and the U-Lock was invented.

We all think the pilgrims were forced from England because of “religious persecution.” Bah, what a crock of bologna. The real reason is much better! The King could not get down with their tandem bike-riding habits and forced them out. They went to the bicycle-loving Netherlands where they thought they would be accepted, but shit got weird and they sailed via pedal power to America.

More Fun Historical Bike True Facts:

*Paul Revere rode a bike, not a horse, that he called his “steed.”

*Lewis and Clark traveled by mountain bikes.

*Honest Abe rode a bike every day and it’s thought that the Emancipation Proclamation was written while he was riding his upright, stationary bike.

I could continue to regale you with more amazing, historically accurate facts about the bike, but I don’t have enough column space for that.

Don’t be a fool – wear a helmet.



  1. Matt Olson says:

    Wow, I never knew Columbus invented the U-lock! Interesting. 🙂