You will certainly have already come across them at some point: a special type of bicycle which you don’t sit, but lie on. Despite the fact that it may seem this is a modern-day innovation, these bikes have been around since the middle of the 19th century.
A luxury bicycle which you ride lying down has one great advantage over the conventional kind: it is much more comfortable and the body sits in a much more natural position on it. You don’t feel any pain from the saddle or in the back of your neck or wrists.
Recumbent bicycles also have a much lower aerodynamic drag and thus are much faster than conventional bicycles on which you can achieve a faster ride by leaning forward. And that is certainly no good for the spine or neck muscles.
The roots of the recumbent bicycle date all the way back to the middle of the 19th century and it has been regarded as a separate type of bicycle since 1893. The design of recumbent bicycles has been constantly developing since the start of the 20th century. However, a turning point came in the 30s when a fairly average rider won a competition on a recumbent bicycle at the velodrome in Paris. Competitors on conventional bicycles started to protest and so strict new technical regulations were introduced and the recumbent bicycle was disqualified from official competitions in 1934. Its development thus ceased for a long time.
Interest in it was not again awoken until 1979 in the USA, when the engineers Chester Kyle and David Gordon Wilson again started to work with its aerodynamics.
The recumbent bicycle in particular found its way into the awareness of the general public thanks to the film Brainstorm in which the main character rode one. The interrupted development thus continued in the 80s. Production of these luxurious machines has skyrocketed since the start of the 21st century and they are nowadays produced all over the world. They are currently most popular in the USA, Canada, Germany and Holland.
The City Museum in Ústí nad Labem found a unique bicycle dating back to 1880 in its collections this September, this being a predecessor of today’s recumbent bicycle. This luxurious historical bicycle has already been restored twice and is fully functional at the moment. It can be seen until the end of 2017 in the exhibition The Bicycle 1817-2017 in the North Bohemian Museum in Liberec.