Sporting Vernacular 31. Bicycle

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The Independent Online
CARL FOGARTY won his fourth world Superbike title, at Hockenheim yesterday, while most of the world's best pedal-powered cyclists were making their way round the toughest ever Tour of Spain course.

"Bicycle" literally means "two-wheeled", from the Greek kklos ("circle, wheel"). First used in French, its English debut came in an 1868 Daily News report of "bysicles and trysicles on the Champs-Elysees and Bois de Boulogne". For a decade before that, the word used was "velocipede", literally "swift foot".

Towards the end of the last century, an engine was attached to a bicycle and a new pursuit was invented - in 1912, Wilfred Owen wrote in a letter: "Captain Wigan has had a motor-bicycling accident!". "Motor", by the way, comes from the Latin movere, although for centuries it was applied simply to the general idea of a "moving force", and not until the end of the last century was it used to denote an engine.

Many countries lay claim to the invention of motorcycling, though Gottlieb Daimler, who developed the Einspur engine in 1885, is generally considered the father of the motorbike.