In Memoriam: The Funny Bike

Laurent Fignon's Hour Record Machine

We gather here today to pay our respects to one of the most exciting developments the Cycling world has ever witnessed: the funny bike.

For seventy years, the evolution of the bicycle was marked by incremental change; improvements to brakes, more gears, and better shifting followed one another as the sport grudgingly continued its slow journey towards progress and modernization.

Then, in an instant, disruption. Change. In the years prior to 1984, time trial machines were little more than finely-tuned road machines. But suddenly, spurred on by Francesco Moser’s success in breaking the Hour Record aboard a radical machine with double disc wheels and cow-horn handlebars, we entered a decade of innovation.

In the blink of an eye, we had broken from the shackles of traditional thinking and were suddenly free to think about a bicycle without constraint. Riders appeared in the start house with fairings attached to their saddles and bars mounted below the top tube. Riders toed up to the start line with broom sticks mounted across the drops of their handlebars. Aero bars appeared and with them, the triangular frame design that had graced our machines for three-quarters of a century disappeared. In the span of ten short years, time trial positions went from the standard tuck to the Super Man.

Then, in a crafty maneuver which demonstrates that the UCI’s incompetence is not a recent development, new regulations were introduced which effectively killed innovation in bike design. The UCI regulated the position of the bars, the saddle, the size of the wheels, the design of the frame; even the shape of the tubes are currently highly scrutinized. The UCI even offers an exorbitantly expensive frame certification process.

Join me now, as we examine some examples of the most innovative machines our sport will ever see.

A-Merckx.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Funny Bike/”/]

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140 Replies to “In Memoriam: The Funny Bike”

  1. @Marcus
    Didn’t specialized make 2 versions of the Shiv, one UCI compliant and one not? I think the main difference was the nose cone fairing, and possibly the seat setback and the 3 to 1 rule for tube shapes. the first year they bought it out, they had to keep their transition in the line because that bike was UCI compliant, while the first version of the Shiv wasn’t.

  2. @Daccordi Rider

    Kind of looks like someone left it in the sun too long, but I like it.

    SOLID GOLD.

    The front disc. Whole lotta WTF right there, mister. Do you hate the skin on your shoulders?

    @scaler911
    Wait, you threatened your departure if I owned a Softride and you have that fucking thing sitting around in your garage? Seriously dude.

  3. @frank
    I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a buddy that got a Softride tattoo in exchange for a free Softride frame. Haven’t seen him in years, but I’m guessing that’s a decision he’s now regretting.

  4. @frank

    @Daccordi Rider

    Kind of looks like someone left it in the sun too long, but I like it.

    SOLID GOLD.

    The front disc. Whole lotta WTF right there, mister. Do you hate the skin on your shoulders?

    @scaler911
    Wait, you threatened your departure if I owned a Softride and you have that fucking thing sitting around in your garage? Seriously dude.

    Touchè.

  5. @scaler911

    Took me awhile to post this: Had to take a Valium to get rid of the seizure this induced:

    Hey Ernesto, you know when I realize I need to cork the bottle of wine? When I forget to walk out from behind the fence before spray-painting the bike.

  6. @frank
    (Sighs) Don’t worry, Marcus knows I’m on his farm, fucking his sheep just like he thought I’d be. Now when he rides his BMX down to Maccas for his 2 big macs, he’ll know where they’ve been.

  7. @scaler911

    @frank

    Where’s the television and satellite dish? Ha!

    Seriously! They both report speed, distance, etc. But the bigger one is also the brain for his (gulp) Mektronic system, which he has on all his favorite bikes. He keeps finding people who are willing to sell their set to him for next to nothing. HINT! The other one has a HR feature.

    Pretty sweet bike though, especially considering he pulls down on that thing at the ripe age of 65 or whatever he is now.

  8. @frank

    I have a couple of Daccordis but not that beauty I’m afraid. If one ever comes up it’s mine, but pretty hard to come by in Oz.

  9. @frank

    @scaler911

    @frank

    Where’s the television and satellite dish? Ha!

    Seriously! They both report speed, distance, etc. But the bigger one is also the brain for his (gulp) Mektronic system, which he has on all his favorite bikes. He keeps finding people who are willing to sell their set to him for next to nothing. HINT! The other one has a HR feature.

    Pretty sweet bike though, especially considering he pulls down on that thing at the ripe age of 65 or whatever he is now.

    I learned this lesson many years ago: no matter how stupid and ridiculous you think something your father is doing is, shut your yap, or you’ll get smacked (either literally or figuratively). In his 60’s with a kidney transplant and asthma, my dad never fails to impress.

  10. @scaler911
    My dad, upon walking/crawling the mile from the house he was building, and fell from causing a clean break of the hip, to get to the car because it was winter and the driveway too steep and frozen to drive (Wisconsin):

    Yes, it really is very strange when you stand on your leg and the top of it moves to the left or right. You don’t normally expect that.

    When pressed, he also admitted that it hurt a bit. Rule #5 for sure.

    My favorite pic of me and my dad.

  11. @frank

    @scaler911
    My dad, upon walking/crawling the mile from the house he was building, and fell from causing a clean break of the hip, to get to the car because it was winter and the driveway too steep and frozen to drive (Wisconsin):

    Yes, it really is very strange when you stand on your leg and the top of it moves to the left or right. You don’t normally expect that.

    When pressed, he also admitted that it hurt a bit. Rule #5 for sure.

    My favorite pic of me and my dad.

    That vest is fucking PIMP! Even the the king of pimp agrees:

  12. “Now that we have conjured the V, you must keep your hand over the vessel until you can decant into a bidon.”

  13. @minion

    @frank
    Funnily enough, Australia has the second highest sheep population in the world – only behind China. New Zealand comes in fifth.

    So I guess if you are looking for the country with the largest number of sheep who can understand Kiwi pillowtalk, then why wouldn’t Minion move here?

    And Frank, I can argue semantics all day. The Oxford dictionary states that innovation is to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

    Basically any change is an adaptation you dumb fucker.

    Once again, go write some code.

  14. @scaler911

    @frank

    I learned this lesson many years ago: no matter how stupid and ridiculous you think something your father is doing is, shut your yap, or you’ll get smacked (either literally or figuratively).

    My dad got me onto road bikes as he refused to buy me a BMX that all my friends were riding around. I was about 11 years old. He took me to the local veledrome with his Raleigh Europa, strapped himself in the toe clips and churned out the fastest laps I’ve ever seen! I tried for one lap and took all afternoon!
    As with most dad’s, looking through eyes of being a kid, they dressed daggy, told crap jokes, but they were the original hipsters!
    Check this out; Dads are the Original Hipsters

    Back to the Funny Bikes, anyone recall the Slingshot?!

  15. @Marcus

    Basically any change is an adaptation you dumb fucker.

    You’re embarrassing yourself, you tit. Innovation is the introduction of something new, which is different from (incremental) change and adaptation, which is taking something which exists and modifying it.

    But you can sit and water the language down if you like – you’re in the wrong place. An appreciation for the subtle difference in what a word implies is precisely what we do here. Decals or stickers? Are you a cyclist, or do you bike? Do you fuck sheep or make sweet, gentle love to them?

  16. @Rob
    Very cool. Allez le douze!

    @scaler911

    So if you have a “funny bike” (which I do), what’s the point of using stem to make it like a ‘regular’ bike?

    Since that’s not your funny bike, you’ll be needing to post a photo.

  17. @sthilzy

    @scaler911

    @frank

    I learned this lesson many years ago: no matter how stupid and ridiculous you think something your father is doing is, shut your yap, or you’ll get smacked (either literally or figuratively).

    My dad got me onto road bikes as he refused to buy me a BMX that all my friends were riding around. I was about 11 years old. He took me to the local veledrome with his Raleigh Europa, strapped himself in the toe clips and churned out the fastest laps I’ve ever seen! I tried for one lap and took all afternoon!
    As with most dad’s, looking through eyes of being a kid, they dressed daggy, told crap jokes, but they were the original hipsters!
    Check this out; Dads are the Original Hipsters

    Back to the Funny Bikes, anyone recall the Slingshot?!

    It’s hard to see from the photo — is that the one where the downtube is replaced by some wire rope and a turnbuckle? Fucking nutter.

  18. This discussion is incomplete without a reference to Alex Moulton, one of the few people to try to rethink the bicycle frame and thereby fall foul of the UCI.

    Check out this page for some of the performance and speed records they’ve achieved, including a cool shot (couldn’t copy and paste it) of Tom Simpson riding a Moulton around Herne Hill velodrome.

    http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/heritage.html#recordsracing

  19. @ChrisO

    This discussion is incomplete without a reference to Alex Moulton, one of the few people to try to rethink the bicycle frame and thereby fall foul of the UCI.

    Check out this page for some of the performance and speed records they’ve achieved, including a cool shot (couldn’t copy and paste it) of Tom Simpson riding a Moulton around Herne Hill velodrome. http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/heritage.html#recordsracing

    …and who is also interviewed on The Bike Show!
    http://thebikeshow.net/the-moulton-story-part-one/
    http://thebikeshow.net/the-moulton-story-part-two/

  20. How about this one of Big Mig, with a 650c front/700c rear wheel rig, somehow managing to defeat its own purpose with lots of stem rise. Uncharacteristic from the man could invoke panache merely by placing a cycling cap on his head.
    `

  21. @Nate

    Back to the Funny Bikes, anyone recall the Slingshot?!

    It’s hard to see from the photo “” is that the one where the downtube is replaced by some wire rope and a turnbuckle? Fucking nutter.

    Yep, thats a length of wire rope with a tensioning nut back of head tube!

  22. For seventy years, the evolution of the bicycle was marked by incremental change; improvements to brakes, more gears, and better shifting followed one another as the sport grudgingly continued its slow journey towards progress and modernization.
    Here’s a collection of inovation;
    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/sthilzy/2012.05.08.06.22.21/”/]

  23. @sthilzy
    I wonder what they were thinking with the kinked cranks (“Swastikas”)? I mean, geometrically, you’re not gaining anything over a straight crank connecting the spindle to the current pedal socket… Stiffness?

  24. @Bianchi Denti

    @ChrisO

    This discussion is incomplete without a reference to Alex Moulton, one of the few people to try to rethink the bicycle frame and thereby fall foul of the UCI.

    Check out this page for some of the performance and speed records they’ve achieved, including a cool shot (couldn’t copy and paste it) of Tom Simpson riding a Moulton around Herne Hill velodrome. http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/heritage.html#recordsracing

    …and who is also interviewed on The Bike Show!
    http://thebikeshow.net/the-moulton-story-part-one/
    http://thebikeshow.net/the-moulton-story-part-two/

    Always look out for Moultons ridden by bald men with huge beards and no helmets – they can really shift

  25. @ChrisO

    This discussion is incomplete without a reference to Alex Moulton, one of the few people to try to rethink the bicycle frame and thereby fall foul of the UCI.

    Check out this page for some of the performance and speed records they’ve achieved, including a cool shot (couldn’t copy and paste it) of Tom Simpson riding a Moulton around Herne Hill velodrome. http://www.moultonbicycles.co.uk/heritage.html#recordsracing

    Just doesn’t look right…..

  26. @Nate

    Uncharacteristic from the man could invoke panache merely by placing a cycling cap on his head.

    Fuck Yeah!!!!

    Mig in that helmet, or ‘aero-cap’ reminds me of one of Fat Albert’s posse, Donald;

  27. @frank

    @Marcus

    Basically any change is an adaptation you dumb fucker.

    You’re embarrassing yourself, you tit. Innovation is the introduction of something new, which is different from (incremental) change and adaptation, which is taking something which exists and modifying it.

    But you can sit and water the language down if you like – you’re in the wrong place. An appreciation for the subtle difference in what a word implies is precisely what we do here. Decals or stickers? Are you a cyclist, or do you bike? Do you fuck sheep or make sweet, gentle love to them?

    Give yourself the plus one badge you fucker!

  28. @Rob

    @frank@NateJeez Frank trust you to dig that up- forgot you had access to it… Nate that was a 60 tooth on the front there with a 5 speed straight block. It was a rockin little bike that was a perfect crit bike.Oh and just for you eagle eyed Rules freaks who might pick up on the sock violation I sometimes would do the trackie thing in crits. Duegi all leather shoes with bare feet and double Binda reinforced toe straps was like a vice grip made from virgin baby boa constrictors.

    There is so much else that is so fucking right in that photo that the sock length (despite what the UCI might think) is simply unimportant.

  29. The king of funny bikes rides again

    love the bit on testing it

    We’ll just have to take it out onto the A78 and try it there – I’ll get a mate to drive behind me while I’m doing it

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule 44” emblazoned down the side?

  30. @Chris

    The king of funny bikes rides again

    love the bit on testing it

    We’ll just have to take it out onto the A78 and try it there – I’ll get a mate to drive behind me while I’m doing it

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule 44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    Dude is probably my biggest single source of motivational quotes

    “My biggest fear is not crashing on a bike and losing some skin. It’s sitting in a chair at 90 and saying, ‘I wish I had done more’. I don’t know if I will break the record but I will give it the best punt I can.”

  31. @Chris

    The king of funny bikes rides again

    love the bit on testing it

    We’ll just have to take it out onto the A78 and try it there – I’ll get a mate to drive behind me while I’m doing it

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule 44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    While it’s a bit of a tangent from funny bikes, check out the video Big Ring Riding posted yesterday of a dude moterpacing on the freeway.

  32. @Chris

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule #44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    That would be totally awesome. My Sensei got his manager’s email when we met Graeme a few weeks ago. Graeme was pretty stoked on what I told him about the Velominati, I’d say he’d appreciate and deserves our support. Should I contact his manager and see if he can set up a donation page or something?

  33. @Chris

    The king of funny bikes rides again

    love the bit on testing it

    We’ll just have to take it out onto the A78 and try it there – I’ll get a mate to drive behind me while I’m doing it

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule 44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    +1!

    “Obree has just Enlisted the help of his 18-year-old son, Jamie, to assist in building the bike.”

    This is father and son lunacy at its best: “What shall we do today Dad?”

    “We’ll build a bike to do 100mph and break the World HPV speed record. We’ll make a spare and you can have a go too.”

    Just awesome!!!

  34. @Fausto
    Ah it makes sense now – I read “18 month old son”. The sacred garments staring at me from the other side of the room must be affecting my eyes.

  35. @frank

    Shouldn’t you be looking for @Minion? Isn’t he in your country now? That must piss you off. With no sheep around, what does he fuck now? Kangaroos? Seems messy and dangerous.

    Don’t worry – it’s well-known secret that Australia has more sheep than NZ. The Aussies just don’t like to admit it. I’m sure he’ll find himself a nice ewe to play with. ;-) (Please don’t kill me – I just can’t resist taking a stab or two at the poor Aussie sods…)

  36. A university in Scotland made a study of shepherd’s night-time activities which I read years ago. In the borders the most popular way to spend time with a sheep involved putting the sheep’s front legs in a pothole. Further north in the central belt the farmers would trap a sheep’s front legs in a bush before commencing their business. The research went on to say that during interviews in the highlands the farmers there would move the sheep towards a cliff which they say encouraged the sheep to “push back”, enhancing the experience.

    The most surprising findings came from the Aberdeenshire area where one farmer said that he began by putting the sheep’s rear legs around his waist and the front legs over his shoulders. Upon hearing this the researcher informed the Aberdeenshire man that all over Scotland the preferred method was to trap the sheep’s front legs with the sheep facing away. Evidently he exclaimed, “What! Nae kissing?”

  37. @Marcus

    Those crazy triathletes still innovate pretty well – the Specialised Shiv ignores UCI rules and with cool features like being able to put your drink in the downtube, there is still some cool stuff out there…

    Oh the shame, that cycling innovation for the next decade will be driven by triathlon. If the UCI won’t let it happen, manufacturers will go where they can sell innovative bikes. Once the tech trickles down to the low end road bikes, the only ones buying new stuff will be triathletes. Won’t be long before the UCI outlaws ceramic bearings and carbon cranks.

  38. @snoov

    @Chris

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule #44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    That would be totally awesome. My Sensei got his manager’s email when we met Graeme a few weeks ago. Graeme was pretty stoked on what I told him about the Velominati, I’d say he’d appreciate and deserves our support. Should I contact his manager and see if he can set up a donation page or something?

    Indeed, that would be awesome!

  39. @snoov

    @Chris

    How about a quick whip round to sponsor him so the fairing can be painted in V-colours with “Rule #44″³ emblazoned down the side?

    That would be totally awesome. My Sensei got his manager’s email when we met Graeme a few weeks ago. Graeme was pretty stoked on what I told him about the Velominati, I’d say he’d appreciate and deserves our support. Should I contact his manager and see if he can set up a donation page or something?

    Do it and email me with the info!

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