We visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI yesterday (a good activity with the -25F wind chill!). I'd been there several times before, but not since my rediscovery of bicycling, and I was surprised by the number of interesting old bikes they had on display from the late 1800s and early 1900s (plus some "late model" bikes from our childhood era). Since bicycles were a really new invention in the 1800s, there were a lot of innovations tried out before they started to take a more standard form. Some of the more interesting ones included:
- A "tandem" with side-by-side seating (an interesting challenge to balance!).
- A ten-man bicycle. There was also a picture of it being ridden, with all of the riders wearing knickers, suit jackets, and caps).
- One of those "big wheel" 1800s bikes that was categorized as a "climber" with the wheel being driven by an interesting linkage from the pedals so you could just pump the pedals straight up and down instead of in a circle.
- An early bike with a frame made of hickory (would this qualify as the first "carbon-framed" bike?).
- An "adult tricycle" from the 1890s that had two smaller wheels arranged in tandem on one side and a large driving wheel on the other side with the seat in the middle.
Anyway, it was a fascinating history of early bicycling in a couple dozen examples. If you've never been there, The Henry Ford is probably the best museum of the history of technology that I've seen. This was just one small part of it that I really noticed for the first time yesterday.