Pierre Lallement, the Inventor of the Bicycle

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The 'bicycle' as traditionally thought of today is a two wheeled, steerable vehicle that takes balance to ride & pedals to power it. Though many earlier versions that were more primitive to the modern bicycle have been around since that early part of the 19th century, they differed in how they were propelled, steered and in wheel design so we not going to include them in this discussion.

Pierre Lallement circa 1869

The first bicycle (aka Velocipede) patent granted in America, goes to Pierre Lallement, a Frenchman living in the US, who had improved on a simpler design that he came up with in France a few years earlier.



'Improvement to Velocipede' Drawings & Images

Patent image of Pierre Lallements 'Improvent to Velocipedes'.

US Patent #59915

PIERRE LALLEMENT, OF PARIS, FRANCE, ASSIGNOR TO HIMSELF AND JAMES CARROLL, OF NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT.

To all whom it may concern,
Be it known that I, PIERRE LALLEMENT, of Paris, temporarily residing at New Haven, in the county of New Haven, and State of Connecticut, have invented a new improvement in Velocipedes; and I do hereby declare the following, when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, and the letters of reference marked thereon, to be a full, clear, and exact description of the same, and which said drawings constitute part of this specification, and represent, in,

Figure 1, side view,
Figure 2, top view, and in
Figure 3, a front end view.

My invention consists in the arrangement of two wheels, the one directly in front of the other, combined with a mechanism for driving the wheels, and an arrangement for guiding; which arrangement also enables the rider to balance himself upon the two wheels. To enable others to construct and operate my velocipede, I will proceed to describe the same, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings. A and B are two wheels of common construction, each arranged upon separate axles, and placed, one directly in front of the other, as seen in figs. 1 and 2, the two connected together by a bar, C, passing over the two, as seen in fig. 1, with arms; c, extending down and suppo1ted on the axles of each wheel, as seen in fig. 3. The arms of the forward wheel, A, are arranged upon a pivot on the bar C, so that, by means of handles, D D, the forward wheel may be turned to the right or left, as denoted in red and blue, fig. 2. To the axle of the forward. wheel A, I fix cranks E, to each of which l also fix a rocking treadle, F, the same treadle being balanced by an extension below the crank-pin, so that the flat surface, as seen in fig. 3, will always be uppermost...

View Pierre Lallements full bicycle patent application.

Pierre Lallement Biography

Born in France, Pierre Lallement was trained, and worked, as a carriage maker. At the time (1855-1862), carriage makers in several different countries were simultaneously applying new technologies and inventions to the "velocipede", creating the two-wheeled, steerable, human-powered machine.

It is believed that Lallement conceived the idea of attaching crank-arms and pedals to the front wheel of a bicycle and built his prototype in 1863.

Pierre Lallement moved to America in 1865 and received a patent for his invention in 1866. His contribution to bicycling not only includes the use of cranks on the front wheel for motion, he is also credited with the invention of the pedal. Unfortunately, he died in 1891 poor and unrecognized because his invention did not immediately become popular.