It is said that "necessity is the mother of innovation." So when it's 1818 and you're hit with two bad oat crops in a row and all of the horses (or "1818 Cars") are dying you've got to come up with some alternative transportation. Enter Baron Karl Christian Ludwig von Drais de Sauerbrun, a forester by upbringing but a self-proclaimed inventor at heart. After a little tinkering with some previous models, the Baron came up with the contraption that you see above. It would be 189 years later when a bicycle company in Wisconsin would introduce a similar model called the Float (Don't be fooled by the picture, the pedals come off to help children learn how to ride a bicycle). The Baron's "Laufmaschine" or "Running Machine" was devoid of pedals and a drivetrain but it is one of the first examples of what would later grow into the modern bicycle. The bike was technically a fixie in that it had no brakes (apparently the Baron was a hipster before there was such a thing) but I guess it's not really anything in that it has no gears to begin with. When revolution came to Germany in 1848, the Baron renounced his title, declared himself a democrat, and adopted the more common moniker of "Karl Drais". Apparently, bikes have always been revolutionary.
Drais passed away in 1851 but his contraption is what would become the modern bicycle and motorcycle. In many ways, the world would be a much different place without him. So today, I'll raise a glass of Hefeweizen and toast to the Baron. Without him, there'd be no bikes. And without bikes, no bike blogs. And that, my friends, is no world I want a part of.
Thanks to Wired for the original story.
Photo Credit: Corbis
Source: Institute and Museum of the History of Science (Florence, Italy), Baden-Baden City Guide (Germany)