Tomorrow will kick off the 108th edition of the Tour de France. From the country that brought you the Tour de France, here is another cycling first novelty: the bike torpedo!
The bike torpedo, featured in the January 9, 1914 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser, was invented by Frenchman Etienne Buman-Varilla. His invention consists of a novel hood placed over a bicycle, which offers protection for the rider and reduces the air resistance met by the machine. This permits traveling at a higher rate of speed.
Well-known French cyclist Marcel Berthet covered a little more than three miles in about 5 minutes and 46 seconds riding this bike in a race in Paris.
This article, featured in the March 2, 1914 Newark Evening Star and Newark Advertiser , further describes this ingenious invention as being fish-shaped and constructed with light wood covered by a thin fabric. Berthet broke many records with this bike: he traveled at a rate of 34 miles an hour, faster than any biker had traveled before! Although Buman-Varilla received much recognition for his invention, there is a question of what to do with it since its design cannot easily be used for open competition. Nonetheless, it is still a success!
(Contributed by Kristi Chanda)