Geared recumbents , as distinct from early front-drivers , first appeared in the 1890s, soon after the pneumatic-tired safety bicycle.
Charles Challand , a professor in Geneva, built what was probably the first geared recumbent (Swiss patent 11,429 of 1895, British patent 6,748 of 1896).
He called it the Normal Bicycle, because the rider‘s posture was more normal than that of a stooped–over rider on a standard bicycle.
The rider sat directly over the standard –size back wheel, directly steering the smaller front wheel.
The crank axle was a few inches behind the steering head.
The patent drawing shows a skid –shoe brake, and Paul von Salvisberg mentioned this brake in his report on a lightweight timber-framed version of the Normal Bicycle displayed at the Swiss National Exhibition of 1896 (von Salvisberg 1897, 47-48).
The American consul in Geneva was so impressed by Challand ‘s machine that he sent a drawing of it to the State Department.
According to a report published in the New York Times on October 25, 1896, the bike had been tried in the streets of Geneva and had made a favourable impression.
In 1897 a tubular steel version, weighing about 26 pounds , was shown at the Paris Salon du Cycle.