The Coventry Sewing machine company (previously the European Sewing Machine Company) began making velocipedes in late 1868. They were the first company in Britain to do so.

James Starley, who worked for the company, made various improvements to the velocipede which led to the development of the pennyfarthing or ordinary bicycle in the 1870s. Velocipedes were known as 'boneshakers'. They had steel tyres and very little padding on the saddle.