This book traces how the upper-class passion of the early 1800s for the Hobby-Horse, the fastest vehicle of its day, gave way to the amateur mechanics' more complicated Velocipede or Bone-Shaker of the 1860s with direct-drive pedals on the front wheel. The next step was to steel-wheeled Penny-Farthing whose association with speed and daring gave an excuse for a militaristic cult complete with uniforms and bugles. For the less athletic and particularly for women, there were ingenious tricycles and quadricycles, before the low, chain-driven, pneumatic-tired "Safety" swept all before it in the 1890's bringing freedom and mobility to millions, and a big growth in cycle sport as well. Cycling's mixed fortunes in the motor age are also chronicled, as holidays-with-pay and the fresh-air cult led, between the wars, to an exodus by bike to the Great Outdoors. The last chapter shows how the postwar decline was halted when healthy, ecologically respectable cycling became part of the reaction against corporate consumer-culture.