First fixie footage, c. 1899

And it’s the first moving pictures of a ‘BMX bar-spin’, too.

Thomas Edison, the American inventor and businessman who developed key devices such as the phonograph and a long lasting light bulb*, also worked on an early motion picture camera, the Kinetograph.

More than 300 of his early films survive, starting with a camera test dated to 1891. The clip above of a trick cyclist riding a fixed wheel bike was shot in 1899 by the Edison Manufacturing Co.

A longer version of this YouTube clip is now available on the podcast via iTunes and as direct download via This long-play version includes a second helping of the 1899 clip, set to ‘No cure’ by Pain Factor, available from

* Joseph Swann of Newcastle on Tyne, my home town, invented the first light bulb. Edison patented his a year after Swann and had to later withdraw his US patent.

VIDEO SPONSOR: Condor Cycles, London

Queen, fat bottomed girls and David Duffield

I don’t believe in Peter Pan
Frankenstein or Superman
All I want to do is
Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

In 1978, Queen released the now-classic ‘Bicycle Race’, which has become the song used by TV soundtrack researchers when adding music to a bike-related bit of telly.

Here’s the original, non-rude video for the song:

A ruder version can be found here.

Why rude? Because the B-side to ‘Bicycle Race’ was ‘Fat Bottomed girls.’ The single featured a pic of a nude woman riding a bicycle. Later versions of the single were released with her bottom badly covered up with pre-Photoshop panties.

The songs were included on Queen’s ‘Jazz’ album, which featured little stick men cyclists, racing across the base of a optical illusion style image. This album shipped with a famous poster of 65 nude women cyclists.

A photo spread from the shoot appeared in The Sun and both the original poster and the tabloid homage were bike workshop favourites for many years. And, of course, there’s a bike trade back story.

At the time, David Duffield – now famous as a cheese-loving, Eurosport commentator – was the marketing manager at Halfords. He set up the Jazz photoshoot for Queen. Well, the bicycles part of it. He supplied 65 Halfords road bikes. Queen’s production company supplied the nude models, and Wimbledon stadium as the backdrop.

In 1978, Terry Harris, now a rep for Greyville Enterprises, was working for Halfords’ bike making facility, Halmanco of Pontypool, Wales. He told

“I was working in the production/sales office and the bikes used were the Halfords International model.

“The driver still tells the story of the day he went to the stadium to deliver the bikes and then all the models came out in bath robes then derobed and got on their bicycles for the photographs.”

Contrary to the urban myth that Halfords refused to take the bikes back or that the bike’s saddles were removed for, ahem, later use, Harris said:

“The bikes came back to the factory and were checked over and put back into stock.”

Perhaps it would have been a different story had eBay been around back then…

The famous poster lived on:

“One rep used to have a copy of the poster in his briefcase and when he went abroad he showed the poster and told people this was an annual bike race held in Britain,” said Harris.


Boardman Bikes: the first pix

Halfords has today reported it has reached an agreement with Britain’s Olympic gold-medal winning Chris Boardman to market a range of bikes and accessories using his name. I’ve placed the main story on

And here are the first pix of the new bikes – and the great man himself. The bikes and accessories will be available through half of the UK’s Halfords stores and the company’s IBD-style Bikehut stores.

In 2008, there will be an ‘elite’ range of cboardman bikes aimed at the top-end of the market, including top-end road and time trial bikes. These will be available from 25+ independent bike dealers in the UK, and there will be worldwide availability also.

More details on

PIX: VisMedia

Car v Bike cost savings calculator

Check out the new ‘petrol calculator’ on the right. It’s not quite right yet but when the database has been tweaked for litres you can use it to work out how much you save by cycling to work instead of driving. You need to know the price of petrol in your area and how many miles per gallon your car does.

The sidebar widget was created by Tim Grahl of in the US. He’s got a ‘gas savings’ calculator on his site and I asked him, nicely, to produce one that featured litres, not gallons, and with the results in pounds sterling. Thanks, Tim, you’re a star!

Fix a flat with a phone

The puncture repair video short can be found on the YouTube bicycle maintenance group, or by clicking the arrow below.

But some of the Weldtite-sponsored videos will be converted into 3GP ‘phonecast’ format for downloading to mobile phones and PDAs. Click here for the page that contains the fixing a flat video. Then click on ‘direct download’ to grab the file. Hook up your cellphone to your PC or Mac and sync in the usual way.


Tree eats bike

In Flann O’Brien’s famous, surreal novel The Third Policeman, Irish locals and their bicycles merge:

“People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles.”

That’s fiction (although some keenies, welded as they are to their bikes, might disagree). But here’s reality. British broadsheets have been copying each other to report on a Scottish tree which has absorbed a bicycle. The coverage started on 22nd May in The Telegraph, with The Times and The Guardian following up on the story, and then the story appeared on the CTC Newsnet email newsletter on Friday.

The source material was gleaned from the ‘heritage trees’ part of the Forestry Commission website.

Brig o’Turk…is home to one of Scotland’s arboricultural curiosities – the Bicycle Tree (also known as the ‘Iron Tree’ – bigger pic here). This century-old sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) has almost swallowed up what was once an anchor, and a bicycle.

There is a story about a villager conscripted to the Great War who left his bicycle over a branch. Perhaps he never returned, or perhaps on his return he found that the tree had claimed the bicycle as its own.

The tree can be found on the west side of the Glen Finglas road about half a mile north of Brig O’ Turk. The village is on the A821, 9 miles west of Callander.

But the Scottish bike-eating tree is not the only one. There are others in the world, including one on Vashon Island, Washington. This one has eaten an early, Schwinn-style child’s Cruiser. It can be found off Vashon Highway, which runs between the Seattle and Tacoma ferry ports on either end of the island, on the northeast corner of the SW 204 St. intersection.

This tree appears in a classic children’s Christmas novel, Red Ranger Came Calling, by US cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, best known for Bloom County, a 1980s cartoon-comic strip starring Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin.

Red Ranger Came Calling is set in 1939 and is about a boy who didn’t quite believe in Santa Claus, but who wanted to because he was lusting after a bicycle he knew his folks couldn’t afford:

“My prize eluded me: an Official Buck Tweed Two-Speed Crime-Stopper Star Hopper bicycle. It sat there gleaming in the Vashon Hardware Store window, tantalising earthlings with its spine-tingling glamour. The Red Ranger of Mars – me – visited this place daily, like a cow returning to a salt lick. There I would loiter, miserable in bicycle poverty…”

The bicycle-eating tree featured in the book is the one at Mount Vashon. (Not to be confused with the American BMX builder Tree Bicycle Co.) reviewer C. L. Magendanz of Seattle, WA, said of Red Ranger:

“With both a fascinating story and incredible illustrations, Red Ranger is the hands-down favorite in our house for both children and adults. We frequently give copies to friends as gifts. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, I also encourage a follow-up field trip to Vashon Island. While the bike is not as complete as it is in the story, there’s clear astonishment on everyone’s faces when they see that the story is ‘real’.”

Coalfield Series pix

On Saturday I was the event photographer at the Coalfield Series event, organised by Newcastle Phoenix.
The event was held at Hetton Lyons country park, near Durham. 107 pix from the event can be found here.

Sing-a-long with LNDD

What a wonderful world it would be if certain lab technicians could put their hands on critical equipment manuals, didn’t certify each other’s tests and didn’t make “boo boos” that portray cycling as even more drug riddled than it certainly is.

Don’t know much about biology? There’s a great summary of the Floyd Landis hearing – including 5-alpha-androstanediol for Dummies – in the Los Angeles Times. In the long piece, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Michael Hilzik revisits his past articles on the flawed world of anti-doping.

After digesting that article, sing-a-long to what could be the perfect theme tune for Le Laboratoire National de d’pistage du dopage:

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took


Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for.
Sam Cooke, ‘Wonderful World’

Floyd Landis video:

World Bicycle Relief: a video short

Yesterday I uploaded a news story on about the new World Bicycle Relief distribution centre in Zambia.

“Bicycles empower individuals, their families, and their communities. Our mission is to provide access to independence and livelihood through the power of bicycles.”


While poking around the World Bicycle Relief website I found some cracking video documentaries on the wonderful work this organisation is doing. They are available as Quicktime movies on the WBR site or can be watched in lo-res on YouTube, click the vids below.

As with everything on YouTube, the resolution isn’t fab. To download the Zambia documentary short to your video iPod, PC or Apple TV get the hi-res vid from iTunes.