Nuremberg, 1655

Stephan Farfler’s Mechanical Tricycle
Reconstruction: Museo del Sidecar, Cingoli (Macerata)
Materials: wood (walnut, acacia, elm, fir), forged iron, cast bronze, leather, colored pigments, vegetable hair, natural glues, anti-woodworm substances, beeswax

Stephan Farfler (1633-1689), a paraplegic as the result of a terrible fall when he was still a child, wanted to have a vehicle that allowed him to move independently. He learned the art of watchmaking as an adult and, using those mechanisms, managed to create a three-wheeled cart moved by a crank operated by the driver. In fact, it is the first self-propelled vehicle in history built for human transport, designed not for show, but for its practical utility. From a technical point of view, the solution of the rotary motion given by the crank to transfer the motive power to the wheels was of the utmost importance, and would be used again in the 19th century with the pedals of the bicycle.