Swing and Wrong-Way Bikes

On a Swing Bike, Laird Rickard demonstrates how both back and front wheels rotate out of the plane of the frame.

MAKE Projects Editor Paul Spinrad had a great time trying to ride two trick bicycles, the Swing Bike and the Wrong-Way Bike, from the bike rodeo Cyclecide (cyclecide.com). He spoke with Cyclecide’s Jarico Reesce, Jay Broemmel, and Laird Rickard about how the bikes work.

Paul Spinrad: Where did the Swing Bike come from?

Jarico Reesce: Back in the 1970s, Donny and Marie Osmond actually invested in and promoted a commercial swing bike as a wacky new bicycle for kids. This was when the Schwinn Sting-Ray was popular. But too many kids fell and got hurt, and the bikes didn’t sell. Like with any industry, innovative things get shelved and come back years later.

Laird Rickard: The trick to riding a Swing Bike is steering with your butt, which most people don’t get when they first hop on. That’s why they end up falling down.

JR: Laird here is pretty good at making the back wheel alternate between left and right. It looks cool when you get a rhythm going. Riding fast down hills, a Swing Bike really turns heads, which is one of our objectives with our bikes.

On a Wrong-Way Bike, gears between the handlebar stem and front fork make the front wheel turn in the reverse direction of the handlebars.

PS: And then there’s the Wrong-Way Bike, which amazed me because I couldn’t ride two inches on it, even if I crossed my hands.

JR: We tell people at our show that you need to be an ambidextrous dyslexic with attention-deficit disorder to ride it, and you have to look directly into the sun and ride as fast as you can.

We challenge the audience, saying we’ll give $50 to anyone who can ride it. Of course no one can. In our show, it’s always like, are we entertaining the audience, or are they entertaining us? Everyone gets a chuckle when some über-biker type in spandex gets on the Wrong-Way Bike and just flops and falls.

PS: Can anyone ride it?

JR: Yes, we have a clown who can ride it, Otis. And he fits the criteria of being ambidextrous, dyslexic, with attention-deficit disorder.

Jay Broemmel: I got the idea for the Wrong-Way Bike from David Apocalypse, who said it was an old carny trick. He would have the gears covered up, and charge people to try. He’d be like, “Two dollars! All you have to do is ride this bike ten feet, get across that line, and I’ll give you 50 dollars!” Then he’d ride it himself and say, “Look how easy it is!”

PS: Those old carnies!

JR: Of course, we don’t consider ourselves carnies. We consider ourselves showmen. If anyone calls us.

See more photos of Cyclecide’s bikes at makezine.com/11/cyclecide.

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Paul Spinrad is a broad-spectrum enthusiast, writer, maker, and dad who lives in San Francisco. He hatches schemes at http://investian.com.

View more articles by Paul Spinrad


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