It’s interesting to note the social competition between bicycles and tricycles in the late 19th century. These two modes of transport, though closely related at the beginning, eventually developed separately into vehicles with an even greater social divide – motorcycles and cars.
Bicycles in the early era required athletic ability, so they were the preserve of fit, adventurous rich men. At first, tricycles were considered suitable only for old folks or timid cyclists. But after Queen Victoria purchased a pair of tricycles, their popularity increased, particularly among ladies, and tricyclists soon had their own magazines and clubs.
Bicycle clubs and rides invariably focused on speed and competition. Tricycling events were a female social affair, often involving a parade around town followed by tea. During their brief reign, high-wheel tricycles had an enormous influence on society, capturing the public imagination not only in Britain where they flourished, but around the world too. As a result, bicycles, tricycles and, within 20 years, motorcycles and cars, soon ruled the roads.