A Chinese historian’s recreation of what he claims
was the first pedal-powered cycle ever invented.
Academic Xu Quan Long has taken his bizarre contraption to the streets of Beijing to show people his discovery – which has raised more than a few eyebrows with other road users.
‘It is quite slow and looks like very hard work to steer and control,’ said one of the large, wooden device, whichrequires complicated gearing to allow it to even move.
Xu said he stumbled across the discovery while studying the works of legendary ancient Chinese inventor Lu Ban, who was born more than 2,500 years ago.
Lu is credited with inventing devastating military weapons like a counterweighted ‘cloud ladder’ for storming castle defences, and a ‘wooden bird’ that could supposedly glide for three days without landing.
The earliest verified examples of cycle-type devices weren’t developed until to 19th century – first in the form of the ‘draisine’ or ‘velocipede’, a walking-powered two-wheeled device invented by German engineer Baron Karl von Drais in 1817, and briefly popular with dandies.
A variety of pedal-powered devices with varying numbers of wheels appeared over the next few decades, but it wasn’t until the invention of the metal-framed ‘boneshakers’ in France in the 1860s that cycling really began to achieve any popularity.
But Xu now wants to challenge the accepted history, and is asking Chinese government officials to recognise Lu Ban as the cycle’s true inventor.