The history of the bicycle: 150 years of folding to return to its essence

Discover the fascinating history of the 150-year evolution of the folding bicycle. From its beginnings with William Grout's large detachable bi-bike, to the discovery of Captain Gérard's folding bicycle, to contemporary innovations from renowned brands. In 2023, Bastille continues this tradition with a high-end urban bike. By highlighting folding in less than 10 seconds, the Bastille aims to pay tribute to the ingenuity and innovation which is the essence of the bicycle at its creation.

End of the 19th century: the golden age of the bicycle.

Engineers and inventors of all kinds, all seeking to adapt the bicycle to urban needs. In 1878, William Grout would be the very first to have

designed a large removable bi. The large front wheel detached from the frame and the maneuver was completed in 10 minutes.

The first patented invention would be that of the American engineer Emmit G. Latta in 1887. His challenge: to design the folding of the bicycle so as to store it easily, without taking up space.

On the French side, Captain Henry Gérard created a folding bicycle to equip soldiers and replace the horse. Its objective: “ to have the cycle carried by the cyclist where the cyclist could not be carried by the cycle ”. A few years later, the “Gérard bicycle” was officially presented at the Salon du Cycle in Paris in 1894.

Subsequently marketed by Peugeot to the general public, the adult folding bike is modernized for the needs of city users by adding a mudguard and a new handlebar. From the beginning of the 20th century, lightweight folding bikes generally enjoyed great success in Europe, the USA and even Japan.

A notable event between 1920 and 1930 which marked a turning point in design: the inventors all began to reduce the size of the wheels, as on Katakura bicycles in Japan.

1950 TO 1980: Aim for portability and improve compactness.

Since 1950, the folding bike has inspired the whole world.

In France, the Stella brand has created “two small folding cyclos”, compact with its atypical handlebars: the Potcketmo and Pocket-bi, with a handlebar flap allowing it to slip into a suitcase.

Little by little eclipsed by motorized means of transport such as mopeds or cars, the lightweight folding bike is making a comeback thanks to English innovation. In 1971, Harry Bickerton, an engineer at Rolls Royce, built an original model using the latest aluminum alloy materials.

For its part, the Moulton brand is rolling out the first folding bike equipped with suspension and a mixed frame. Finally, the Brompton, a “flying carpet” for the city invented in 1975 by Andrew Ritchie, became the benchmark for London commuters. Once the bike is folded, the crankset and the chain line are enclosed between the two wheels, avoiding grease stains when leaving transport.

From 1980, it was especially children who favored the lightweight folding bike because parents could transport it in the trunk of the car, for a weekend or on vacation.

2023: The shift towards folding bikes without compromise.

Until now, manufacturers around the world have continued to innovate to

result in the perfect folding bike. 150 years of history have allowed us to arrive at the geometry of the modern bicycle. However, if folding allows compactness and ease of transport,

at Bastille it must be done without compromise. We are committed to respecting what makes the essence of the bicycle, an object

ingenious and innovative, imagined by its historical designers, from all over the world. This is why BASTILLE has designed a true high-end urban bike, with a major advantage: folding in less than 10 seconds, which undoubtedly makes it one of the best folding bikes on the market.

With each folding, the story of the bike continues.

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