Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bikes You Can't Ride

Last night, Anna (from Cycling Is Good for You) and I went to a party thrown by a local law firm. As a form of entertainment, the party offered its guests a number of exotic bicycles to try, courtesy of our friend and fabled bicycle collector Wolfgang.

Among the more notable was this super-long chopper.

Don't be deceived by the fact that Anna is actually pedaling it in the pictures - these things are incredibly difficult to ride. The freakishly long fork throws the steering completely out of wack requiring extraordinary balancing skills and trust in the universe to control it.

And here is Wolfgang riding a Swing Bike. If it looks like the bicycle is folding in half whilst in motion, that's because it is.

The seat tube is split in such a way, that it pivots and allows independent steering for the front and rear wheel, to the point that the wheels can be almost parallel to one another.

When I first learned about modified bicycles, I assumed the point behind them was eccentricity and creativity. I never realised that often such bikes are intentionally designed to be difficult to ride. By altering the bicycle in a way that disturbs balance, the cyclist is challenged to compensate by improving their own balancing and steering skills. Though I prefer my bicycles ridable, I appreciate the skill it takes to handle these - especially after having tried (and failed) to ride them myself!

17 comments:

  1. That is quite interesting. It looks like a lot of fun. I have seen the swing bikes before but not that long chopper thing.
    Hope you are enjoying yourself in Vienna!
    Thanks a lot.
    -ryan

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  2. Once I learned how to ride a fixed gear bike, I thought I'd mastered the (cycling) universe. I guess I was wrong.

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  3. There is an interesting discussion of unrideable bikes if you google "unrideable bicycle" and then follow the link to:
    http://www.phys.lsu.edu/faculty/gonzalez/Teaching/Phys7221/vol59no9p51_56.pdf

    I also recall one such beast that NOBODY was able to ride.

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  4. wowzers that looks like fun!
    here in SF the tour de fat has similar bikes that are next to impossible to ride. there is a video somewhere, me thinks on the FB lands...
    cool post :D

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  5. My husband and his buddy ride a swing bike in a local weekly cruiser ride. Its nuts!

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  6. too funny! it's kinda like the viennese equivalent of somerville's own scul:

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/scul/pool/

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  7. MandG - Wow! Picture please : )

    Steve - I remember hearing about that, thanks for the article!

    somervillain -Thanks, I didn't realise they had a flickr group. The bikes in my pictures are not part of any kind of organisation; Wolfgang has all sorts of things in his collection and these modified bikes are part of it. Scul is something else entirely...

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  8. Was a lot of fun :). If I would be able to ride such a bike around town, then I would feel like the master of universe. I don't dare though.

    Anyhow, such bikes automatically come with a good theft protection (attempts to ride away quickly might end in severe injury).

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  9. yep, one bicycle i build is till today unridable, its called the "Glattverkehrt", I just turned the frame other way round.
    If you want go left, you have to steer with your hip right, the steering bar is fixed.
    http://www.2-pedals.org/eigenekonstruktionen_Glattverkehrt.htm
    no one could beat it till today, since 1 1/2 years :-)
    but we will...

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  10. Wow, I did not notice that one before : )

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  11. Vienna is looking like a lot more fun for you this time around, much more than your last stay! :)

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  12. RidingPretty - That is most definitely correct!

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  13. Very cool. That "swing bike" could become the latest fitness fad. Side to side movement and cardio in one!

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  14. except that most people wouldn't be able to ride it! - at least I wasn't able to

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  15. My brother has a swing bike called the "Super Trick Bike" - we like to call it the "Stupid Trick Bike"...

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  16. Can you do a 360* with a swing bike? That would look awesome!

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