Pedal Fast in the Bike Torpedo!

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!

Image with title "Here is the Latest Speed Device For Biker Racers, Direct from Paris."

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.

Article titled "The Velo-Torpedo" Which Has Created a Sensation in the French Bike World."

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)

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