Cycle Publishing
Van der Plas Publications

1282 7th Avenue
San Francisco
CA 94122, USA

Tel.: (415) 665-8214


Bicycle History

About the International Cycle History Conference

There’s much more to the history of bicycles and bicycling than the evolution from “Hobby-Horses” to “Boneshakers,” and from there to “High-wheelers.” Indeed, cycling has been an important social activity in most countries of the world, the first form of modern “individual mobility.”

For many years, the history of cycling and of the bicycle has been handled in a very cavalier fashion. Only too often, unsubstantiated rumors were copied from one book to the next, and even reputable historical museums had very little factual information about items in their own collections.

The first International Cycling History Conference was instituted in 1990 in Glasgow, Scotland, to counter this trend, offering historians of the sport and the technology a forum to exchange their findings and ideas.

Since these first beginnings, a conference has been held each year in locations ranging from San Remo (Italy) to Osaka (Japan), and from Cambridge (England) to Stellenbosch (South Africa).

At each of these conferences, delegates make presentations about specific aspects of the history of cycling and the bicycle. In many cases, myths are debunked (such as Hans-Erhard Lessing’s work on uncovering the hoax of the alleged “Leonardo da Vinci bicycle.”

Each conference is organized by a different group, institution, or individual — sometimes with sponsorship of one or more companies or organizations. After each conference, Van der Plas Publications / Cycle Publishing produces the Proceedings in the form of a very handsome large-format jacketed hardcover book. These books provide the most complete and up-to-date inventory of the state of the art in cycling history available anywhere in the world, and they are available from this web site.

If you are interested in attending a conference, please check the link at the bottom of this page, which will give detailed information about the next upcoming conference.

Beware of the Internet, Wikipedia, etc.

Unfortunately, the Internet has led to even more unsubstantiated and outright incorrect information. If you were to search for "Bicycle History" using your search engine, you'll find a lot of information, and except for this website and a few other ones, they all feed you myths instead of facts.

Two websites that offer real cycling history-releveant information are the websites for the British Veteran-Cycling Club (www.v-cc.org), the Ameican Wheelmen (www.wheelmen.org) and the International Cycling History Conference (www.ichc.biz).

Some Cycling History

A sample of Cycle History Conference Proceedings volumes published by us. This is Volume 17, covering the 2006 conference in York/Toronto, Canada.


Oh no, he didn't: The presumed Leonardo Da Vinci bicycle was a hoax perpetrated in recent times. Leonardo was a genius, but he never did invent the bicycle. Read Prof. Hans-Erhard Lessing's expose.


Living history is just as important, and books such as The Birth of Dirt (pictured below) contribute much to the pursuit of the history of technology by recording the facts before they get mixed up with fiction.