Cyclists in the First world war – and don’t forget your helmet

I was looking through some photos from World War One. There were quite a few showing soldiers using bicycles. The British army even had a specific bicycle corps.

And I thought Oxford roads were bad at the moment..

Soldiers were given bicycles to help faster troop movement, but it looks this roads was too muddy to cycle on.


These cyclists don’t even seem to be wearing a cycle helmet. Talks about socially irresponsibility! I don’t see many hi viz jersey amongst the platoon either. I don’t know how they managed to avoid being run over by tanks!

And don’t get me on to their position in the middle of the road.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but it was too depressing to say anything serious about this cycling ad, which got banned for being socially irresponsible.


Funny or not, around 50% of Premiership sides are sponsored by gambling companies.

Other photos of cyclists in war


Indian sepoys serving in the British army on the Western front.

bicycle freedom german soldiers

A German platoon going off to the Western front on bicycles.


Bicycle ambulance.



5 thoughts on “Cyclists in the First world war – and don’t forget your helmet”

  1. Bicycles had quite a role during WW2 at Hugenden Manor, Bucks.

    Bicycles were issued to uniformed staff working there, civilian staff had to sort themselves out.

    Also I remember reading in Bella Bathurst’s excellent The Bicycle Book about the Dirty Tricks Brigade who used bicycles, also in WW2. They substituted the pumps on some enemy bikes with exploding pumps. After a few explosions, the enemy were afraid to use their bikes – all the Dirty Tricks Brigade then had to do was let the tyres down without even changing the pump. It had the effect of disabling the German cycles as they’d be too scared to pump them up!

  2. It appears that those Indian soldiers were not well trained in cycling, so they placed the load over the front wheels instead of the rear wheel. Unlikly they could out-run the horses with the front wheel so loaded.

  3. Three points Lee Joo Mong:
    1. The Indians’ bikes are rather lightly loaded;
    2. The bikes were in all likelihood fixed gear bikes. Their rear end is never loaded as there is a need on emergencies on downhills, to be able to easiy jump off the back of the bike; and
    3. A well-placed load on the front of a bike can often be quite stable for steering and handling – in contrast to a heavily loaded rear wheel.

  4. Interesting article! I didnĀ“t know about cyclists in the First world war. I had no idea that he British army had a specific bicycle corps. Wow ! thanks for sharing !


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