Trivia

Hard

Early Versions Of What Thing Were Known As “Boneshakers”?

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Bicycles
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An 1868 wood engraving of an American velocipede.
Theodore R. Davis/Wikimedia

Answer: Bicycles

While the bicycle itself was a revolution in transportation due to its efficiency in converting effort into distance traveled, the early versions of the bicycle were a bit unrefined, to say the least. The first true bicycles (distinguished from other wheeled precursors by the presence of pedals) appeared in the mid 19th century and were constructed of wrought iron with wooden wheels rimmed with iron.

To say the ride was stiff and uncomfortable would be an understatement. In fact, the combination of iron-rimmed wooden wheels and a wrought-iron frame had so little flex that every bump in the road was transferred right through the bike frame to your body—a situation that was only somewhat ameliorated by the inclusion of a long flat spring under the seat. The rough ride earned these early bicycles the nickname “boneshakers”.

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