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It's that time of the year once more in Australia:
National Ride2Work Day (Wednesday 16 October 2019). In celebration
of pedal power, here's a tour of some weird and wacky cycling
One wheeled vehicle (US patent 325,548)
|This curious vehicle, where the rider sits inside
the wheel, was patented by John Otto Lose in 1885. I love the way
the illustrator has gone to the trouble of including a little
umbrella in case of rain (not an essential feature of the
Aerial bicycle (US patent 563,793)
|Aerial bicycle (US patent 563,793) Another slightly
bizarre contraption was invented by Hiram Nickerson and patented in
1896. The crucial problem, which seems to render this invention
almost completely impractical, is that without a network of
elevated track, the aerial bicycle can't go anywhere.
Rowing bicycle (US patent 642,544)
|Like the idea of rowing and fresh air but scared of
the water? No problem! Louis Burbank has the solution for you with
this rowing bicycle, patented in 1900. More recent iterations of
such a machine are available for purchase in 2019, but I suspect
it's probably a niche market.
Double bicycle for looping the loop (US patent 790,063)
|Next up, it's Karl Lange's patent, granted
in 1905, for a "double bicycle for looping the loop for circus
and other performances." I'm not sure I fancy my chances
with this one. Especially without a helmet.
Exercising device for water use (US patent 4,241,688)
|More recently, Ralph and Kathryn Mansolill's
1980 patent is for a device useful for exercising in a swimming
pool or other body of water. The general idea is not to achieve
some sort of miraculous unicycling on water. In essence, the device
is buoyant so that it can support a person "in a substantially
seated upright position in the body of water such that the neck,
head and upper shoulders of the person remain out of the water,
allowing the person to exercise the legs, arms and torso while
Mowing apparatus adapted to be towed by a pedal-operated
vehicle and the like (US patent 5,410,864)
|Can't afford a motorised ride-on lawnmower? In
1995, Thomas Lacy and Kenneth Shackles, Jr. patented this mowing
apparatus adapted to mount to the frame of a vehicle such as a
bike. Especially handy if you have a long, thin lawn.
Apparatus for harnessing wind to drive a bicycle (US patent
|Granted in 2005, Vladimir Zam's patent protects
his sail attachment which, when connected to a bicycle, harnesses
wind to drive the bicycle forward. My assumption is that it's
not intended for use on crowded city streets and I guess it might
take a bit of practice not to fall off and hurt yourself when the
wind changes direction. However, Google suggests that others have
also proposed bicycles with similar attachments – so perhaps
this idea may have wind in its sails yet.
Body-connected bike (US patent 6,805,657)
|Do you live in a small apartment and don't have
space for a bicycle? Just do away with the frame. And the pedals.
Indeed, Justin Trenary's 2004 patent does just that. It's
an interesting concept, probably quite exciting for downhill
riding, but I'm not tempted to replace my commuting bike with
one of these any time soon.
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