In 1993, cyclist “The Flying Scotsman” Graeme Obree installed washing machine parts on a homemade bike. Obree dubbed the rig “Old Faithful” and rode it to crush the world hour record, covering 51.596 kilometers (32 miles) in 60 minutes. His record-setting ride on the patchwork bike was riveting enough to get the Hollywood treatment, with Johnny Lee Miller appearing as Obree in the 2006 film, The Flying Scotsman.
Obree would later say he regretted telling journalists about his jerry-rigged bicycle, lamenting, "Now forever I will be remembered as the washing machine guy." (Not to be confused with this MIT student-designed bike-powered washing machine.)
The title clearly didn’t bother Obree for long. He made headlines again in 2012 when he used a burnt saucepan as part of a new bike on which he hopes to break the World Human Powered speed record. This bike’s name? Pie in the Sky.
Moving on from household items, this transparent creation may be one of the strangest functional bicycles we’ve seen. Made by artist Jimmy Kuehnle out of clear Lexan panels, the bike almost completely blends into its surroundings. Almost.
A company in Madrid is currently taking orders for bikes hand-crafted out of parts from junked cars. Check out their video below:
In the same sustainability vein, several bike makers have been fashioning frames out of wood, with bamboo as a popular choice.
Then there are the guys you mentioned—an Israeli engineer and his business partner—who promised to revolutionize cycling by introducing $20 cardboard bikes to developing countries. You can sign up here to be notified when their project launches on Kickstarter.
Finally, in the category of non-functional bikes, we nominate the diaper bike as the weirdest thing we’ve seen. Apparently, it’s a popular baby shower gift-slash-centerpiece. Now you know.
Seen a stranger bike? Let us know in the comments below.
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