Friday, November 9, 2012

Military Folding Bicycles and Curiosities

Historical cycles for Neo-Victorian Steampunk Revivalists and historians of the industrial revolution.

I have always like the history of early military bicycles, which for me started years back with reading an article about the U.S. Army’s flirtation with military bicycles and also with a series of pre WWI Dutch photogravures I purchased of a machine gun unit that used bicycles to transport and deploy their weapon.   Add to that an interest in inventions such as the folding bike and we’re off to the races.  There is no point in me “reinventing the wheel” so to speak, so I’ve decided to just post some of the photos and links I have found for others who share an interest in military history, invention, and bicycles. 

For an excellent overview of Victorian military bicycling costume, which is perfect for you military minded steampunkers, click the following link. has some excellent information including an amazing folding penny farthing along with a lot of good period illustrations of other early folding bikes and is perhaps one of the clearest and best sites on the subject in a single post.

Don’t forget to check out the BSA & military bicycle museum site, which as a page about military folders.  I really recommend it.

There are a couple of books that I keep seeing referenced, The Bicycle in Wartime: An Illustrated History by Jim Fitzpatrick and It's in the bag: A History of Portable Cycles in the UK, by Tony Hadland; I haven’t read them, but pass the titles along for others to read. 

Wikipedia has the inevitable article
Also try the online bicycle museum site
 Here is an article about the previously mentioned U.S. Army bicycle tests.  I didn’t mention previously that it was performed by Buffalo Soldiers.  And an article about the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps and their coast-to-coast journey to prove the bicycle was an asset to military movement and logistics.  and
 An interesting sidelight on the subject of inventions is this chainless shaft drive bicycle that seems to offer possibilities for fresh innovation.
 I hope these articles have piqued your interest in military and folding bikes, somewhat and that you continue follow links to find more information.

Update January 2015 -- I have turned up some sequential photos, circa WWI showing a mounted trooper and his bicycle.  It shows him riding, dismounted, firing, carrying his bike, folding it up and then putting it on his back to carry it.  It's actually a pretty impressive way to get mounted infantry around in modern Europe.
 A good deal stranger is the motorized tricycle with a maxim gun mounted on the front.  You can't get more steampunk than that, unless it had a steam engine rather than an early internal combustion engine.


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  2. I like your post it's very interesting. Did you know that nowadays Montague Corporation make bicycles for the military? Their Paratrooper design was developed to allow airborne soldiers to drop of out planes directly into combat. Hopefully you could get more info about Montague's military bikes and post them in your blog. I am really fascinated by knowing more about these bikes.

  3. Hello,
    I found your blog and the information very useful. Really, it's good to have a Folding Bicycle. These bikes will be fit for the people who love to roam with bicycles.

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