Efim Artamonov

Efim Artamonov

Inventor of the world's first two-wheeled bicycle
Country: Russia

  1. Biography of Efim Artamonov
  2. Early Life and Invention
  3. Journey to St. Petersburg
  4. Legacy

Biography of Efim Artamonov

Efim Mikhailovich Artamonov is known as the inventor of the world's first two-wheeled bicycle. He was born in 1776 and was a serf who worked at the Pozhvin factory owned by Count Vsevolozhsky (according to other sources, a prince).

Early Life and Invention

Artamonov's father was a specialist in barge construction, and from a young age, Efim assisted his father. At the age of fourteen, Artamonov started walking to the Staro-Utkinskaya wharf, where his father was assigned to work. He had to cover around 160 versts (a measure of distance) every day. It was during this time that he may have conceived the idea of inventing a scooter. There are reports that he was once punished for riding his scooter on the city streets, scaring horses and causing harm to citizens' health.

In 1800, Artamonov invented the precursor to the modern bicycle - an iron scooter with two wheels, with the front wheel twice the size of the rear wheel. The scooter was propelled by the rider's leg movements, with pedals attached to the front wheel axle.

Journey to St. Petersburg

In 1801, Artamonov decided to embark on a journey to St. Petersburg on his invention. However, the large front wheel posed significant difficulties. Descending a slope carelessly could easily cause the vehicle to overturn, resulting in serious injuries. Climbing uphill required exerting a great amount of effort to prevent the scooter from rolling backward. Nevertheless, Artamonov was determined to overcome these challenges and successfully rode his scooter to St. Petersburg, and then immediately traveled to Moscow. His courageous feat earned him 25 rubles and his freedom. Afterward, Artamonov returned to his hometown of Nizhny Tagil and continued to work on improving his invention.


Today, a replica of Artamonov's scooter can be seen at the Nizhny Tagil Local Lore Museum. In 1802, several copies of his invention were made in Nizhny Tagil, and workers planned to replicate Artamonov's journey to the capital on their own scooters. However, the Demidov factory supervisors disagreed with the positive outcome of this initiative. They decided to confiscate and destroy all the scooters, as they believed they were made specifically for escaping serfdom. Furthermore, Artamonov was to be beaten with a whip. After these repressive measures, Artamonov's groundbreaking invention was forgotten.

Although the modern bicycle was developed by different individuals, the basic principles of its operation remained as Artamonov had envisioned. Some reports suggest that Artamonov returned to the Pozhvin factory in 1815, but there is limited information about his later works in scattered archives. In 1840, he was reportedly seen at the Demidov's Sukhona factory, observing the construction of an iron steamship. Artamonov passed away in Sukhona in 1841.