A Trip Through Cycling’s Past.

14 03 2010

1936 Landon and Knox predsidential election campaign bicycle placard.

Today, I had the distinct honor of ending up in one of ‘those’ places. You know, ‘those’ places that you only hear about but never get to go yourself. That dark back room; that dusty attic; that old barn. ‘Those’ places loaded with treasures that took a generation or more to assemble. ‘Those’ places with artifacts from eras past stacked so deep you can’t even see it all. Today, I visited a little piece of bicycle heaven. And, I cannot thank my host enough for the experience. I am a confessed bike geek. I love bicycles most for their technology and engineering. The form of the bicycle has been expressed in so many weird and wonderful ways over the past 130 years. But, the most interesting thing about bicycles is the abundance of early patents that cover virtually every ‘innovation’ still being introduced by various manufacturers today. Seeing the past reveals a lot about the present and, great ideas persist throughout time.

1899 Eagle headbadge from the Eagle Bicycle Manufaturing Company in Torrington, Connecticut.

The Eagle Bicycle Manufacturing Company was based in Torrington, Connecticut and built bicycles from 1888 – 1900.

At one time Eagle had a capacity to manufacture 20,000 to 30,000 bicycles annually. Eagle promoted features on their bicycle like aluminum rims and pneumatic tires with inner tubes. The inner tubes could be easily removed and repaired in the event of a puncture. Eagle was one of the earliest bicycle manufacturers to manipulate the diameter of the frame tube at the joints to produce a more precise fit, a process called cold swagging. Eagle built high wheelers including a 48″, 50″ and 52″ inch high wheel in 1880’s. They weighed from 35 to 50 pounds and cost from $40 to $150.

Eagle’s use of aluminum rims with inner tubes and clincher tires is a prime example of a technology developed and patented early in the history of the bicycle.

Dayton Bicycles track racer.

Dayton skip tooth chainring.

1935 Ingo Bike.

At first called the Exercycle, the Ingo-Bike was invented by the Huyssen brothers and manufactured by the Ingersoll-Rand Corporation from 1934 to 1937. The inspiration for the Ingo-bike was the limber platform of some homemade scooters that induced an up-and-down motion to the rider. It is powered by the rider making a bouncing motion on the platform to turn the eccentric hub rear wheel and give forward motion. A team of Ingo-Bike riders made an incredible trek from Chicago to Miami, FL on the odd machines in just over 30 days.

BSA British paratrooper bicycle.

British paratrooper BSA bicycle jumping instructions.

BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Co.) made airborne bicycles for the British paratroopers. Between 1939 and 1942 they made around 70,000 of these folding bikes. By the time the big invasions in 1944 Britain had bigger aircraft than the Hotspur to fly in Jeeps, etc. Soldiers disliked the paratrooper bicycle so much they discarded them within a few miles of the beach.




3 responses

15 03 2010

Great photos! Keep up the good work! They don’t make them like they used to!

Cheers from Vancouver.

15 03 2010

Hey, where was it that you went to, to see these? Or are you keeping that a secret?

15 03 2010

I’m not really keeping it secret. I just don’t feel I am at liberty to reveal their location. I was honored with the visit and really want to go again for a closer look and better photos.

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