Icons Through The Ages

It’s hard to imagine a world without bicycles. Since the first one was invented over 200 years ago, technology and materials have changed drastically. But what are the iconic bikes that have influenced the design of the bikes you’d buy today?

What Was The First Bike?

You may think you know this one, but you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t actually the Penny Farthing. But the very first bicycle was designed nearly 80 years before this. Named Laufmaschine (German for ‘running machine’) it was a very simple machine with a wooden frame and no pedals. Closely resembling a balance bike, the Laufmaschine allowed the rider to travel at twice their waking pace with no more effort. Although it was an object of ridicule, it’s inventor Baron Karl von Drais had designed the first bicycle that would shape the design of the bicycle today.

The Penny Farthing

It’s safe to say that the Penny Farthing is one of the most iconic bikes in history due to its unique and somewhat dangerous design. The original Penny Farthing called Ariel was invented in 1870 and was able to travel higher speeds because of  its large front wheel. Thankfully the design of the Penny Farthing didn’t stick, or cycling would be very different to what it is today.

By the end of the century various bicycles were being designed across the world with a design resembling bikes you see today. Bicycle design, materials, components and manufacturing have improved over the years.

The Raleigh Chopper

In 1970 the Raleigh Chopper was born. Arguably the most iconic bike of the 70’s it wasn’t just a bike, it was a fashion accessory. It was the bike every kid desired, and if you didn’t have one then you were envious of anyone who did. By the early 80’s the popularity of BMX bikes caused sales of the Raleigh Chopper to drop off and instead being replaced by the likes of the Raleigh Burner.

The First Mountain Bike

Design of the first mountain bike started slowly, in 1953 John Finley Scott invented what would inevitably become the mountain bike. The Woodsie, with its knobbly tyres, formed the foundations of the mountain bike that we know and love today. It wasn’t until the 70’s that the evolution really sped up, and although a lot of big names such as Schwin and Raleigh all launched their own mountain bikes, it was Joe Breezer with his Breezer 1 who was credited as ‘inventing’ the first mountain bike.

TI -Raleigh Pro Team

To this day, the TI – Raleigh is the only British bike ever to have won the Tour De France. Joop Zoetemelk took the title in 1980 and the TI Raleigh also won the team prize, setting a new record for the number of stage wins. The bike has been a British road icon ever since.

The Raleigh Burner

A very popular time for bikes, the 80’s saw the launch of the Burner series which sold over a million units and became the must-have bike of the times. Alongside the launch of the Burner Raleigh invested heavily in a BMX team which included Craig Schofield and Andy Ruffell. In July 2017, Raleigh launched the 35th Anniversary Aero Pro Burner with great success.


What Will Be The Next Iconic Bike?

Over the past 10 years, Electric bikes have become less of a gadget and more of a must have. They enable you to go further, faster and even ride a bike if you were unable to before.

Raleigh are the British brand that started producing iconic bikes since 1887 and haven’t stopped since. The latest release is the Raleigh Propaganda, a single speed city bike that is stylish, simple and quintessentially iconic.