Here at Butterfield & Robinson, we’re no strangers to the pleasures of life on two wheels; we know there’s simply no better way to see the world. We have German inventor Karl Drais to thank for his Laufmaschine (German for ‘running machine’), conceived two centuries ago in response to the largest volcanic eruption in history. (Yes, you read that right).
Talk about the butterfly effect: the seismic event at Mount Tambora, Indonesia in 1815 set off a chain of global crop failure and unprecedented famine.
The resulting scarcity of food meant that millions of horses–the typical means of getting from A to B—starved to death, making the need for a people-powered form of transport inevitable.
Also known as the draisine, this early prototype was essentially a riderless horse with steering and wheels, but no pedals—a rider would use their feet to propel themselves.
In subsequent years, other inventors added their own touches, which evolved into the modern bicycle we know and love. The two-wheel craze continued in 1858 with the addition of pedals and brakes. In 1869, Englishmen William Hillman and James Starley brought the penny-farthing into the market. (Proof that we really, really love biking: our old logo, circa 1980, featured this distinctive bicycle; we even have a working model in our office!)
As a salute to the bicycle’s 200th anniversary, we’ve gathered a few of our favourite routes to explore the world.