Van Cleve Bicycle, Made by the Wright Brothers circa 1896

Summary

So called "safety" bicycles like this one-chain drive bikes with both wheels the same size superceded the fast but dangerous high-wheeler bikes in the early 1890s. Easier to ride than the high-wheelers, faster than walking, cheaper and more convenient than a horse and buggy, safety bicycles allowed unprecedented freedom and personal mobility. They helped whet the public's appetite for the even greater (but much more expensive) freedom and mobility offered by automobiles. This particular bike, branded as a Van Cleve, was made by the Wright Cycle Company, one of the scores of small bicycle manufacturers that cashed in on the 1890s bicycle boom. Its proprietors, Orville and Wilbur Wright, moved on to bigger things, like inventing the airplane.

So called "safety" bicycles like this one-chain drive bikes with both wheels the same size superceded the fast but dangerous high-wheeler bikes in the early 1890s. Easier to ride than the high-wheelers, faster than walking, cheaper and more convenient than a horse and buggy, safety bicycles allowed unprecedented freedom and personal mobility. They helped whet the public's appetite for the even greater (but much more expensive) freedom and mobility offered by automobiles. This particular bike, branded as a Van Cleve, was made by the Wright Cycle Company, one of the scores of small bicycle manufacturers that cashed in on the 1890s bicycle boom. Its proprietors, Orville and Wilbur Wright, moved on to bigger things, like inventing the airplane.

Artifact

Bicycle

Date Made

circa 1896

Creators

Wright, Orville, 1871-1948 

Wright, Wilbur, 1867-1912 

Place of Creation

United States, Ohio, Dayton 

Creator Notes

Made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in Dayton, Ohio.

Keywords

Bicycles 

Firsts 

Greenfield Village
 On Exhibit

at Greenfield Village in Wright Cycle Shop

Object ID

37.316.1

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Material

Leather
Metal
Nickel (Metal)
Plate (Material)

Color

Black (Color)

Dimensions

Height: 42 in

Width: 19 in

Length: 70.5 in

Inscriptions

Plaque on head column: VAN CLEVE / WRIGHT CYCLE CO. / DAYTON, O.

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