Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why? Again, I Ask Why?

With a machine so functional, so efficient, and so simple as the bicycle, it's really hard to improve upon it. Therefore, it seems like every crackpot inventor since the 19th century has sought to do just that.
Don't laugh. You know you'll be wanting one.

Now, the latest attempt to "improve" the bicycle comes in the form of the "Flying Rider": the first "Suspended Rider Bicycle." Even the name just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? I would have called it the "Hang Rider" -- like "hang glider" -- get it?

Is saddle discomfort making bicycling unbearable for you? Well, the Flying Rider dispenses with the saddle altogether, and replaces it with a nice, comfortable harness around your mid-section and thighs, hanging you beneath a framework over the pedals.

That's not an awkward camera angle at all. This
looks like something you'd see at a fetish shop.
The Flying Rider was created by an architect and engineer, D.M. Schwartz, and was inspired by the Tour de France -- where using the Flying Rider would never be allowed.

From the website: "As he watched an uphill section of the 2011 Tour de France, Schwartz noticed that the bobbing motion of the riders looked like wasted energy." (He must have been watching Thomas Voeckler) "If only the rider had something to push his back against, restraining vertical motion and allowing more leverage on the pedals, then the bicycle would be more efficient."

Schwartz goes on to say, "It's the same effect you get when pushing a heavy sofa by sitting on the floor with your back against the wall." Ummm . . . really? That's not what I was thinking.

The "hanging" effect is currently accomplished with a mountaineering harness, which Schwartz acknowledges is "less than optimal for a bicycle, but it gets the job done comfortably." I'm inclined to believe that comfort is relative -- I mean, I know that when I'm riding, I often wish that I had a huge belt wrapped snugly around my midsection. Schwartz expects eventually to have a specially-designed cycling jersey with a harness already built-in. Rest assured, it will look really cool.

Not only that, but I love the idea of having to get all strapped into a harness in order to go for a ride. In fact, judging from the photos, it almost looks like you'd need help just getting hooked in. With the Flying Rider, the days of simply throwing a leg over the bike and riding off will just be a quaint memory of the dark ages.

Another benefit of the Flying Rider is that, in addition to the basic "pedaling mode," it also has a "flying mode" where the rider can stretch out as if on a hang glider. On the company's website, you can see videos of this thing in action. As entertaining as that might be on a long descent, I can't imagine the handling of such a thing would be exactly confidence-inspiring. At least it has a built-in roll cage.

The bicycle is a hard machine to improve upon. But thankfully, we'll always have dreamers.


  1. Congrats on beating bikesnob to this one!

    I'm guessing the "inventor's" intention was just a round about way to introduce that poor girl to bondage play. He's obviously not using his upstairs head to think this one through.....

    1. I'm almost a little bit in shock myself -- Bikesnob got to the Flying Rider today, too -- but I got there first! And somehow he missed the whole potential bondage angle. He must not have looked at all the photos.

  2. The design of the frame on this thing has no axial support (a top tube) and there is no provision for it. I'm sure there's some complex engineer math with the weight of the rider providing that support, but the simplest solution is to put a $&*! tube there, buy a Brooks, and be done with it. Oh and how much does this thing weigh? It's like two bikes worth of bike! Anyway, thanks for the post, always enjoy your blog.

  3. This is merely a modern Dandy Horse. You can't get more retro-grouchy than that! Hell, look at the components: non-aero brake levers w/ safety levers, bar-ends, a quill stem, and rat-trap pedals.

    I think you should look into reviewing one for the blog!


    1. Well -- he built the thing using a 1980s Schwinn -- cut out the top half, and welded on that crazy framework. But even a dandy horse didn't have the rider hanging in some kind of bondage swing.