Of all the mixed metaphors used in cycling the most common one is the weapon often referred to as the double edged sword. Riding a bike can not only give one a sense of freedom and liberation but also unleashes creative "juices". Those juices then pool in any non porous surface, become stagnant and begin to attract flies like a woodland pond. For some reason pioneers and inventors are drawn to cycling and inevitably these types of people want to build a better mousetrap. In some cases, literally re-inventing the wheel. Here are a few of the more memorable of those forays into the cutting edge of cycling.The Body sail. A fabulous new idea! This ad exclaims. What they dont say is what exactly that new idea is. Harnessing the wind to propel oneself is hardly a new idea, if you dont believe me ask the Nina the Pinta and the Santa Maria. I have to assume the author/inventor of the "body sail" doesnt mean strapping a square block of fabric on your back is somehow classified as "a fabulous idea" . The retired garment industry worker in this photo is moments away from needing that swath of material to wrap his road rashed bulbous middle half in after that sail catches a yard full of air and drops that bike into the dirt like it was a hinged cellar door. Dont look for this at your local bike shop any time soon.'
And then there is this little pant leg tearing contraption: The Alenax drive system. If you think the picture is unclear and looks complicated, you arent looking at the picture right. It is instead, very unclear and very, very complicated. I did alot of research on the Alenax drive system, and was shocked to see how many different variations on this same theme were trotted out to the public only to be summarily dismissed like the last three Michal Jackson albums. This didnt stop people from throwing more money and time into trying to change the laws of physics to somehow improve on the efficiency of a circular motion for a pumping one. This quote from the late Sheldon Brown sums it up well;
"Summing it up, I think the inventor (and investors) did not realize that converting reciprocating motion into circular motion is best done by a rotary crank rather than a reciprocating lever, and above all, they weren't bicyclists.
I happened upon this treat Googleing the term "Swingers on bikes" (for site research of course)
It appear by the location of the crank connection to the seat that the "swing" in this bike is actually more of an accordian motion in an upwards arc. As you pedal the bike appears to stretch upwards and then fall with the crank rotation as if the rider were going over a series of small round hills. I am still curious as the meaning behind the tagline "Sport in Vollendung" i know dung mean crap in most any language, perhaps vollen is a German take on Vello or bicycle. So this would be translated into english to mean; "Sport in bicycle shit" Talk about truth in advertising.
This is my favorite. "its not a bike, Its not a skateboard, its a Surf bike" was the headline on this gem. Accompanied only by the only existing picture of the sole person in 1975 that was stupid enough to be talked into replacing his seat with a skateboard and then could be talked into standing on it long enough for a clear 35mm picture. "Soon to revolutionize self propelled recreational vehicles" No firm data on when "soon" is. I love that the Surf Bike shop required an address change just after the flyers were printed and the entrepenaurs opted to just stamp over the existing ads with "New address" What you cant read in small print on the middle right hand margin is: "Daves mom said we had to move the stuff out of the guest garage so she could have a stupid yoga studio, so we are using Mikes den over on 5th."