I generally try to avoid re-blogging and instead generate new content of my own. However, my computer is not working at the moment at my ability to blog is seriously limited by the small amounts of time I can sneak in on my wife’s computer. Today, I’d like to draw your attention to a really excellent WordPress blog: The Online Bicycle Museum. As I have grown increasingly interested in vintage bicycles, this blog has provided endless reading and I highly recommend it. There are numerous “rooms“ in the museum to visit.
It being Remembrance day, I have been reading about the use of bicycles by the military. I was aware that the folding bicycle had its origins in military use. I had the vague idea that it had first been invented for the use of WW2 paratroopers, but apparently they date back at least to 1900 and were used in the Boer War. The early technology seems to have left something to be desired:
There are, more especially on the Continent, critics who advocate the use of the folding cycle for military purposes. I cannot but believe that these must mostly be people who have never ridden a folding bicycle. It is heavy, lacks rigidity and strength, entails loss of time in folding and unfolding, and even when it has been folded and is strapped on to the back in such a manner, by the way, that it cannot possibly be unstrapped except by the assistance of a comrade, it is the most unwieldy burden I have ever carried.
The advantages claimed for it, even if real, would hardly compensate for these drawbacks; but the advantages are theoretical rather than practical. It is claimed that cyclists when they wish to cross fields, etc., will dismount, fold their bicycles and stow them on, their backs. I was once the proud possessor of a folding bicycle, which I used for experimental purposes, and I can assure you that for half a dozen excellent reasons nothing would induce me to take one on service, or if I did it would never be folded except when the spring got out of order and it collapsed automatically, which is one of its unexpected habits.
THE CYCLE IN WARFARE: ITS POTENCY AS A STRATEGICAL AND TACTICAL FACTOR.
By Captain. A. H. TRAPMANN, Adjutant, 25th (Cyclists) Battalion (County of London) The London Regiment. 16th December, 1908
I assume that the shortcomings were addressed, as these bicycles continued to be used by various militaries. Here are two early folding bikes from the WW1 period , one British and one Italian:
And here is a later example, a WW2 paratrooper`s folder:
I could post many more links here, but my stolen computer time will soon be over, so Ithink I will spend it wandering through the online museum myself.