Cycle Rickshaw Group

I started this in 2016 as a group for passenger-carrying bicycles and tricycles. But it soon developed into a more general group for bikes and trikes, including motorised versions. In the early 1900s, cyclists were the first motorcyclists.

The turn of the 20th century was an exciting time to be a cycle enthusiast – cyclists were actually the first motor-cyclists and motorists. This group enjoys all the new innovations that were being introduced around this time.

We also celebrate the history & preservation of passenger bicycles & tricycles, cycle rickshaws, bicycle taxis, forecars, sidecars & passenger trailers. These have provided transportation of people and goods at affordable prices for over 100 years, first in the west, then in the east. Ironically, in the 21st century, while legislation in India is putting many pedal rickshaw drivers out of business, they are making a comeback in cities in Europe and America. Please post pictures here of all historic pedal-operated passenger vehicles.


1. The first rickshaws were pulled by hand. In the 1880s, iron rickshaws were introduced to Shimla, the summer capital for the British Raj in India. They were so heavy that four men were required to pull them.

Sedan chairs had been the main form of transportation for the upper classes around the world for over a thousand years. A covered sedan chair was supported by two poles and carried by either two or four men. City records in Britain show that the quantity of licensed sedan chairs were gradually reduced from 1800 onwards, their place being taken by bath chairs and horse-driven hackney carriages. In India the sedan chair was known as a palanquin, and this was still in use in the late Victorian era. Wooden rickshaws became popular around Asia by the 1890s; in India, the palanquin was used by upper classes while the middle classes rode in hand-pulled rickshaws.

Calcutta (now Kolkata) is the only city in India to maintain the tradition of hand-pulled rickshaws; there are an estimated 18,000 rickshaw pullers and 6,000 rickshaws in operation.

There are three primary designs in use for the cycle rickshaw tricycle.

2. The Indian version, also found in Nepal, Tibet, China and Thailand, has the rider in front with the passengers behind. This style evolved from the hand-pulled rickshaw.

3. The configuration of the Indonesian ‘becak’ has the single wheel of the rickshaw at the rear, with the pasengers in front. This design is also used in Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.

4. In some countries, rather than a traditional tricycle design, the layout is that of a bicycle with a passenger seated on a sidecar. This style is used in the Philippines, Singapore, Burma, and in smaller numbers in Sumatra (Indonesia). Malaysia has a mixture of this style and the becak style.

5. In Africa, passenger tricycles were too expensive to produce, so bicycles with pillion seats were used as taxis. Nowadays they have mostly been replaced by motorcycle taxis, though some are still in use.

As well as rickshaws from around the world, in this group you can see historic passenger vehicles: 1895 Tinkham Passenger Tricycle; 1904 Royal Enfield Forecar; a Victorian Bath Chair; 1960s Children’s rickshaw; Ugandan ‘Boda Boda’ Bicycle Taxi; Wicker Bicycle Passenger Trailer; Bicycle Sidecars

You can access the Facebook Cycle Rickshaw group by clicking on this link