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.

Draisine/ Lauf-Maschine

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