Plucked From Obscurity: Bicycle Seat, with Needles

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Inventive, yet under-publicized devices
by Marina Tsipis, Improbable Research staff

Bicycles, a popular means of transportation, are also a popular target of thievery. One incisive method of theft prevention has been available for more than a century, yet even its existence has failed to entirely deter those who would purloin bicycles.

U.S. patent #650082 for a “bicycle attachment,” was granted to Adolph A. Neubauer on May 22,1900. Here are some of the details:

The invention is for preventing the stealing of bicycles by riding them away. The seat is provided with one or more upwardly-projecting needles or pricks, which reciprocate through one or both sides of the seat-top by means of mechanism located beneath in such manner that the rider can raise them when the bicycle is not in use and depress them when in use….

The operation is as follows: The rider of the bicycle turns the crank-shaft C by its handle D until the end of the detent M takes into and is securely held in the slot or cut-away part o of the handle-hub n by the spring r, and the knob O of the opposite hanger B’ is moved in its slot q until the end of the detent N is above its respective crank I’, by which the needles or pricks L are held and fixed beyond the possibility of accidental raising through the surface of the seat A. When the rider dismounts, he turns the detents M N until their combined support is removed from the axle C and cranks I I’ and the spring J is free to act by turning said axle C and cranks I I’, and throwing up the needles or pricks L until their ends project upwardly through the top of the bicycle-seat, and thus prevent any one from mounting the bicycle without serious injury or manipulating the detents for lowering the needles or pricks without detection. To the seat A, near its top or surface, is a button P of a vertical shaft Q, which is held in a raised position by a spring r. When depressed, its bottom end s engages with the detent Hand moves it sufficiently to break the engagement between it and the slot o of the hub of the handle D.


coverThis article is republished with permission from the March-April 2012 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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