Van Cleve Bicycle, Made by the Wright Brothers circa 1896

Orville Wright1891/1901

The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford
Dearborn, MI, United States

So called "safety" bicycles like this one-chain drive bikes with both wheels the same size superceded the fast but dangerous high-wheeler bikes in the early 1890s.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.


  • Title: Van Cleve Bicycle, Made by the Wright Brothers circa 1896
  • Creator: Wright, Orville, 1871-1948, Wright, Wilbur, 1867-1912
  • Date Created: 1891/1901
  • Location: United States, Ohio, Dayton
  • Subject Keywords: Firsts, Bicycles
  • Type: Objects
  • Contributor: The Henry Ford
  • Original Source: Digital Collections
  • Patent Place: Dayton, Ohio
  • Patent Date: 1896
  • Object Name: Bicycle
  • Object ID: 37.316.1
  • Manufacturer: Wright Cycle Company
  • Inventor: Orville and Wilbur Wright
  • Invention: Bicycle
  • Image ID: THF70569
  • Field: Transportation
  • Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

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