KARL DRAIS & THE DRAISINE

Karl Von Drais (1785-1851) was a German baron from Karlsruhe, who worked as a Forest Master (in the northern part of the Black Forest) for the Grand Duchy of Baden. In 1817 he produced a ‘lauf-maschine’ (running machine), which quickly became known as the ‘Draisine’ or ‘Velocipede’ (fast foot). (from Herlihy p21).


The Draisine was both the first human powered land vehicle to gain a degree of public acceptance as well as the first important step towards the modern bicycle we know today.

The Draisine was constructed entirely from wood, except for iron tyres and padding for the seat.

Hans-Erhard Lessing believes the erruption of Tambora in Indonesia (1815), which led to the year without a summer (1816) (crop failure and soaring price of oats), was a prime motivation for Drais’s development of the Velocipede.

D.G. Wilson refers to this in Bicycling Science; wiki Karl Drais; Mick Hamer New Scientist 2005