The first Rover was a tricycle manufactured by Starley & Sutton Co. of Coventry, England in 1883. The company was founded by John Kemp Starley and William Sutton in 1878. Starley had formerly worked with his uncle James Starley (father of the cycle trade) who began in manufacturing sewing machines and switched to bicycles in 1869.
In the early 1880s the cycles available were the relatively dangerous penny-farthings and high-wheel tricycles. J. K. Starley made history in 1885 by producing the Rover Safety Bicycle – a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it more stable than the previous high wheeled designs. Cycling Magazine said the Rover had ‘set the pattern to the world’ and the phrase was used in their advertising for many years. Starley’s Rover is usually described by historians as the first recognizably modern bicycle. The words for “bicycle” in Polish (Rower) and Belarusian (Rovar, Ро́вар) are derived from the name of this company.