The "Bicyclette" and the "Bicicletto"

In 1879 a Coventry manufacturer, Harry John Lawson, patented a bicycle with a chain transmission and smaller wheels. He named it the "bicyclette." The model was not successful, but it paved the way for a new generation of bicycle design. The reduced wheel diameter increased safety without sacrificing speed. Inventors from different countries patented several devices to increase comfort and safety. In 1888, John Boyd Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre while three years later Édouard Michelin invented the tyre casing, later perfected by Pirelli.

In 1884 the Turin maker Costantino Vianzone presented the "bicicletto" - a bicycle with a wooden frame and rope wheels. One year later, Edoardo Bianchi began industrial-scale production of bicycles. The Italian term "bicicletta" came into common use in the late 1880s.

Fun Facts

● At the end of the 19th century the Italian government introduced a road tax on bicycles, initially of 5 lire, then of 10.

● In 1898, during the upheavals in Milan, General Bava Beccaris, who was the commander of the Italian Royal Army, forbade the circulation in town of "bicycles, tricycles and tandems," as he believed that these vehicles facilitated exchange of information between "subversives."

● In 1895 the "Unione Velocipedistica Italiana" (Italian Cyclist Union) was founded, which later became today's Italian Touring Club.

● In 1909, the first "Giro d'Italia" (Italy Tour) was won by the Lombard Luigi Ganna. The route wound along 2,448.5 km with eight laps.