Chain reaction

Kirkpatrick Macmillan was a Scottish blacksmith generally credited with inventing the rear-wheel, pedal driven bicycle.

Macmillan completed construction of a wooden bicycle in 1839 that included iron-rimmed wooden wheels, a steerable wheel in the front and a larger wheel in the rear which was connected to pedals via connecting rods.

A Glasgow newspaper reported in 1842 an accident in which an anonymous "gentleman from Dumfries-shire… bestride a velocipede… of ingenious design" knocked over a pedestrian in the Gorbals and was fined five shillings. The gentleman was later identified as Macmillan. A plaque on the family smithy reads "He builded better than he knew."

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MacMillan's ingenuity spawned an industry and although there were other lightweight frame builders in Scotland the most prolific and well-known was to David Rattray's Flying Scot and The Scot, which were built in Glasgow between 1928 and 1983. The company manufactured approximately 15,000 frames, which were a "must have" amongst many serious club riders. They were also sold to other parts of the UK and exported to continental Europe, Japan, British Guyana and the USA.