1868, coined from bi-
"two" + Gk. kyklos
"circle, wheel" (see cycle
), on the pattern of tricycle
; both the word and the vehicle superseding earlier velocipede.
Probably not from French, though often said to be. The assumption apparently is because Pierre Lallement, employee of a French carriage works, improved Macmillan's 1839 pedal velocipede in 1865 and took the invention to America. See also pennyfarthing
"That ne plus ultra of snobbishness -- bicyclism."