1890s Women Cyclists

21 December 2023 By shamim kordbache History

In the late 19th century, an era often described as the Victorian era, a remarkable shift began to take place in the way women participated in society. One of the striking aspects of this change was the emergence of women into the world of cycling in the 1890s. The bicycle, considered a revolutionary means of transportation at the time, offered women a new level of freedom and mobility. It was a time when women began to break away from traditional gender roles and increasingly turned to activities previously considered "inappropriate."

1890 Vrouwelijke wielrensterswoman cyclist in 1897

The Age of Emancipation and rise of bicycle culture

The 1890s are often seen as an era of emancipation for women. As the women's rights movement sought equal rights, women also sought ways to express their independence on a daily basis. The bicycle came as a powerful symbol of that freedom. It was not only a means of transportation, but also a means by which women could push their limits and discover new possibilities.

In the 1890s, a true cycling culture emerged in which women began to play a prominent role. Cycling clubs, which initially consisted mostly of men, opened their doors to female members. These clubs organised regular bike rides, giving women a chance to show off their skills and forge social bonds. Moreover, these clubs were crucial in encouraging women to engage in an activity that gave them a sense of autonomy.


Fashionable cycling clothing

Another striking aspect of the rise of women in cycling was the change in clothing. Traditional clothing often hindered women's freedom of movement, but the cycling ladies of the 1890s embraced a more practical and comfortable style of dress. Long skirts were replaced by shorter, wide pants that were soon known as "bloomers." This style of dress was not only functional, but also a powerful symbol of the breaking shackles of traditional dress standards.


Eye-catching colours and prints were in vogue, and aerodynamic designs began to gain ground. The use of synthetic materials increased, resulting in clothing that was not only lighter, but also more resistant to sweat and rain. This decade-specific style marked an era when sportswear took on a fashionable look, and women's cycling apparel became a symbol of the vibrant and dynamic culture of the 1980s.


Challenges and triumphs

Of course, women who took to cycling in the early 19th century faced numerous challenges. Social stigmas and prejudice were often associated with women venturing outside traditional boundaries. Nevertheless, this did not stop women from persevering and claiming their place in the world of cycling.

One notable figure of the time was Frances Willard, a staunch advocate of women's rights and temperance. She led the Women's Christian Temperance Union and was a dedicated cyclist. Willard emphasised the positive impact of cycling on women's health and well-being, which helped break the stereotypes imposed on women.

Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray, founder of the Women’s Cycle racing Association, 1950’s. Read more about her in our blog: EILEEN SHERIDAN: A PIONEER OF WOMEN'S CYCLING


Pioneering cycling women of 1980s

In the 1890s, when women's cycling was still in its infancy, there were some notable pioneers who paved the way for future generations of women cyclists. One of these pioneering women was Annie Londonderry, an American who in 1894 became the first woman to cycle solo around the world. Her incredible achievement made her a symbol of female independence and adventure.

Another notable figure was Tillie Anderson, a Swedish immigrant who became known in the United States as "The Terrible Swede." She dominated the cycling tracks and won numerous championships, demonstrating that women could possess both strength and endurance. Although recognition and support for female cyclists were limited at the time, these women were determined and driven, and their legacy provided the foundation for the continued evolution of female cycling.

Tillie Anderson draagt een typisch race-uniform in 1895

Tillie Anderson wearing a typical racing uniform in 1895



If you have a passion for the realm of women's cycling and wish to don attire inspired by cycling icons, we are delighted to introduce our women's collection. Our premium-quality women's cycling jersey has been meticulously crafted, undergoing thorough testing by numerous cyclists who consistently rated it from excellent to outstanding. Drawing inspiration from the dedication and achievements of female cyclists, our collection not only celebrates the contemporary cycling scene but also pays homage to the pioneers of this sport.



The women who ventured into cycling in the 1890s laid the groundwork for the emancipation movements that would follow in subsequent decades. In the 1890s, women on bicycles not only covered miles but also paved the way for future generations of women who sought equal opportunity and freedoms. The legacy of these pioneers continues to live on in today's society, where women around the world continue to fight for their rights to equality, freedom and self-expression.

Are you, like us, a big fan of cycling? Then be sure to keep an eye on our blog. We regularly post new stories about cycling facts, remarkable events and updates of our product range which are definitely worth reading!

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