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15

It's Not a Tricycle or a Bicycle, It's a Dicycle!

Edward Otto had a better idea. As a safer alternative to the penny-farthings of his day, he improved on the bicycle by inventing the dicycle. The dicycle had two huge wheels, but instead of front and back, they were parallel to each other with the cyclist sitting between them. Otto built almost a thousand dicycles between 1880 and 1883.  

For balance, the rider used a slender trailing arm with a rubber roller on the end to stop himself (or, more unusually for the period, herself) from toppling over backward.

The rider sat between the wheels, above the axle, and pedaled using a treadle-style system fixed to the axle by long rods. The treadles turned pulleys at each end, which drove the road wheels via rubber belts.

Within reach of the rider were two levers with which either of the pulleys could be disengaged. This basic form of steering was achieved by stopping the drive to one of the wheels while the other continued to turn. There was a simple hand brake lever for each hand too, each connected to a different wheel.

They were safer than bikes of the day, but you can imagine they'd be more difficult to steer and more difficult to park than a regular bicycle. There are still a few dicycles around. See one up close at vintage.es. -via Everlasting Blort


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