Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1913 Velo-Torpille

The Vélo-Torpille (= torpedo-shaped bicycle) and its designer, the French engineer Étienne Bunau-Varilla (1890-1961).

This vélo-torpille was one of the first streamlined bicycles ever. The air resistance can be over 90 per cent of the total retarding force on a bicycle. The skin of the vélo-torpille, made of celluloid on a wooden frame, reduced that force substantially. It weighted 17 kilo.
The bicycle was special designed to get and hold the cycling Hour Record (= the longest distance which an individual can cycle in one hour).
In those days, the first years of the 20th century, that record was primary a fight between the Frenchman Marcel Berthet and the Swiss Oscar Egg. Six times the record changed from Berthet to Egg and back.
In 1913 Marcel Berthet was holding the UCI hour record (Union Cycliste Internationale) on the classic race bicycle with 43.77 km/h, when he reached an average speed of 52.3 km/h in his new vélo-torpille. He also established records on the 1, 5 and 10 km with this machine.
But the UCI decided to not recognize these records and to ban streamlining from regular racing. So in 1914 Egg rode a time which Berthet could not beat again: 44.247km/h.

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