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Cool History

Boneshaker

Bookmarked Boneshaker (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)

Boneshaker (or bone-shaker) is a name used from about 1869 up to the present time to refer to the first type of true bicycle with pedals, which was called velocipede by its manufacturers. “Boneshaker” refers to the extremely uncomfortable ride, which was caused by the stiff wrought-iron frame and wooden wheels surrounded by tires made of iron.

TIL old bikes of a certain era were called boneshakers, especially in the US.

If I ever rewrite that weird west story I gotta have the hero ride a boneshaker.

Why don’t more historical fiction writers work in cool weird bikes and velocipedes? I want dandies on hobby horses and penny farthings and ladies on safety bikes. I think Courtney Milan wrote a novella involving an early bike?

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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