Hobby Horse 1818

Hobby Horse 1818

Classic Lightweight

Classic Lightweight Cycle


The National Cycle Collection of Wales is a collection of bicycles through the ages established in 1997, and located in Llandrindod Wells, Wales. It contains around 260 bicycles. The first machine use the principles of a bicycle was invented and patented in 1817 in Mannheim, Germany by Karl von Drais. This was the Laufmaschine (Known on England as the Hobby Horse). The term bicycle (velocipede) was coined in France in the 1860s and was applied to the first really popular and commercially successful design developed around 1863 by the Michaux Company of Paris. The design used rotary cranks and pedals mounted to the front wheel hub. Pedalling made it easier for riders to propel the machine at speed, but the rotational speed limitation of this design created stability and comfort problems – leading them to be termed “Boneshakers” and led to the large front wheel of the "penny farthing". The high-wheeled bicycle (nicknamed the “Penny farthing”) was the logical extension of the boneshaker, the front wheel enlarging to enable higher speeds (limited by the inside leg measurement of the rider), the rear wheel shrinking and the frame being made lighter. The Frenchman Eugene Mayer invented the wire-spoke tension wheel in 1869 and produced a classic high bicycle design until the 1880s. The development of the Safety bicycle was arguably the most important change in the history of the bicycle. It shifted their use and public perception from being a dangerous toy for sporting young men to being an everyday transport tool for men—and, crucially, women - of all ages.


In the 1880s, cycling became a fad of major proportions in both the United States and Europe. By the 1890s the "Golden Age of Bicycles" had arrived, bicycling clubs for both men and women flourished on both sides of the Atlantic and touring and racing were the rage. Men wore jackets and trousers which were adapted to the needs of cycling, having shorter jackets and knee-length trousers in combination with long woollen socks. Special cycling shoes could be bought which were light and pliable with smooth soles. At first women wore their everyday long skirts but this often proved dangerous when they tangled with the chains or spokes. Soon special cycling clothing for the bicycling lady was introduced which included the divided skirt and the more extreme "bloomers".


The final breakthrough came with the invention and development of the safety bicycle. The main features of the safety bicycle were a chain drive from the pedals and cranks to the rear wheel and direct steering of the front wheel, with both wheels of approximately the same size.One of the most prominent manufacturers was The Coventry Machinist Company. For a short period at the end of the 1880s and early 1890s these bicycles were built with the same solid tyres as had been used for the ordinary. In 1888 John Boyd Dunlop developed the pneumatic tyre and the modern bicycle rapidly became the most common form of human powered transport. From the 1890s onward there have been few fundamental developments of the bicycle. Reductions in component weight, effective braking, multiple gearing and the introduction of sprung suspension have all contributed to the wider acceptance and use of the machine, but the bicycle of the twenty-first century has not changed in concept from the machine invented and developed by John Kemp Starley and others in the mid 1880s.


The Sociable or Side By Side Bicycle is a bicycle that supports two riders who sit side by side. It was originated in the late 19th century. Historically it has been used as a courting bike used by young ladies and gentlemen spend time with each other in an activity that allowed proximity but conformed to the moral standards of that era. The Roadster design was established by the early 1890s and was designed to be used for everyday transport. It was once common worldwide and as still used in some parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. During the past several years, traditionally styled roadster bicycles have regained considerable popularity throughout the Western world, particularly as a lifestyle or fashion statement. Generally they are suitable for urban environments and they focus more on comfort and practicality instead of speed or efficiency. They are built for durability above all else and no serious attempt is made to save weight in their design or construction, roadsters weigh upwards of 45-50 pounds. The classic gents' roadster has lugged brazed frame joints, a diamond frame, rod actuated brakes, upright handlebars and a single or hub gear. Mudguards are standard and most are fitted with a carrier and a sprung saddle. The ladies' version of the roadster's design was very much in place by the 1890s alongside the gentlemans counterpart. It had a step-through frame so that ladies, with their dresses and skirts could easily mount and ride their bicycles. They were also fitted with a skirt guard to prevent skirts and dresses becoming entangled in the rear wheel and spokes.


At each stage of cycle history, machines have been developed for use by more than one rider. The tricycle layout has been much favoured for this purpose with riders seated in tandem or side-by-side. Following the development of the pneumatic tyred safety bicycle, the ‘stretched’ version of this machine was soon introduced with two, three or more riders ‘in tandem’ on a two wheeled cycle. Five seat tandems were used as pacer machines in cycle races for a short period in the 1890s until the introduction of motor powered pacers at the beginning of the twentieth century.


During the period between the first appearance of the hobby horse and the development of the velocipede, many attempts were made to construct three or four wheeled machines, the tricycle or quadricycle. Primitive wooden tricycles with hand-and-foot propulsion were built, while the quadricycle was successfully commercially developed by makers such as Sawyer and Ward. With the introduction of the light, metal, wire-spoked wheel, tricycles became important. Many different forms were tried, some of asymmetrical layout and others with the large diameter wheels already in use for the ‘penny farthing’. These were also used because they still only had solid rubber tyres and the larger wheel afforded the rider some comfort. Tricycle design finally stabilized in the form of a three-wheeled machine with front and rear wheels of approximately the same size and a chain drive to the rear axle and front wheel steering. These machines are still built today and are favoured by a small group of tricycle enthusiasts.


The combination of safety bicycles with pneumatic tyres and geared drive by chainwheels enabled professional cycle racing to develop rapidly in the 1890s. Bicycles were raced on banked tracks known as Velodromes and attracted large numbers of spectators. In Europe, racing on public roads between cities became very popular. The frames of racing cycles were made of lightweight steel tubing joined by cast lugs. Wheel rims were made of wood, Sloping frame angles, a high bottom bracket and a long wheelbase aided performance and stability at speed. ”Dropped“ handlebars ensured the rider could minimise wind resistance. A Recumbent bicycle is a bicycle that places the rider in a reclining position. The rider's weight is distributed comfortably over a larger area, supported by back and thighs Recumbent bicycles have an aerodynamic advantage since the legs-forward position of the rider presents a smaller frontal profile. A Recumbent holds the world speed record for a bicycle,however they were banned from racing under the UCI in 1934 and now race under a seperate category termed Human Powered Vehicles.


Bicycles have been specially adapted for all sorts of use since their inception, including high - wire circus and stunt riding. The tyres on a high wire bicycle are made of solid wood with a slot running around the circumference allowing the wire to be retained in the slot. The steering fork can be fixed solid since it is not used when performing on the high-wire. Stunt bicycles are made specifically for their purpose .Hence a bicycle used for jumps and being ridden on one wheel only will have strengthened wheels , large section tyres,fixed gear only and a seating/riding position that allows the rider to position the bicycle according to the stunts performed. The museum is Accessible by Wheelchair and there is disability parking at the front of the building. Guide Dogs are Welcome. Toilet facilities ( including Disabled Toilet ) are available on site. Display Items can be photographed (for personal use only). The museum has an inter-active on–line archive library. Free parking for visitors is available at the rear of the building. Wi-fi is available. Group bookings can be mad when museum is closed. Dogs and Carers are free.


Location : The National Cycle Museum, The Automobile Palace, Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells, Powys LD1 5DL

Transport : Llandrindod (National Rail) 6 minutes or bus. Bus Routes : 463 TrawsCymruT4 and X47 stop outside.

Opening Times : Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00 to 16:00;  and 27th August.

Tickets : Adults £5.00;  Seniors £4.00;  Children (4 - 16) £2.00

Tel. : 01597 825 531