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The MASA Slingshot, by Trikebldr

In 1974 MASA (Multi-Advanced Sports Action) (of Japan) created a new class of closed-course track racing. They set up the rules so tight that only one trike would qualify,……their’s! Japanese companies could do that in those days.

MASA was a Japanese company, but targeted the US with this form of racing. In 1975 they finally brought a few of these over here and did some exhibition races between their own staff.  It never really caught on, but they still imported about 1500 of these into the US over a three year period.

There were some very minor changes made to the trikes over the three years they were produced, like the rear dropouts, the chain tensioners, seat materials, colors, elimination of a lot of the original chrome parts, and the elimination of the use of a mid-drive that followed the rear der’s movements (called a reciprocal-gearing system).

Since these trikes were focused on track racing only against like trikes, the lack of braking and their size was not a problem. Their wide, long front end was thought to be better protection for the rider.

Two major problems that kept them from becoming popular was the single, minimally effective rear brake and their humongous size (56+lbs). The Slingshot really was intended solely for track racing where braking was only used to adjust speed entering the corners. Even the disc brake on the rear of earlier models was way less than effective for street use. Later models tried the Bendix drum brake on the rear wheel, but still fell short of being able to lock up the wheel. The trike’s 56-65lb weight didn’t help with it’s stopping problems either.

Earlier models came with an aluminum ‘wing” over the front axle, probably more for looks than anything, and a bullet-shaped, sports car-styled rear mirror on the left side. The chain and front sprocket was also completely enclosed in an aluminum guard. They were very high tech looking machines, but too heavy to compete with any other HPV around.

The first year only came in red or yellow, with lots of chrome on the front end. The second and third years offered the orange and black colors, with the loss of all chrome on them, except the rims. The one you have there now is a very late first year model, with a tan seat and simpler, single cog rear jack-shaft on the driveline. It still has some of the chrome on the steering components, but not all. It is a transition model. The seller claims it to be original paint, but that’s not true. Orange wasn’t introduced until all chrome was eliminated. Black also came out first, with all parts painted black, then the orange was added to the frame only.

One last feature that also killed it was it’s tendency to flip over in high speed corners! The rider’s center of mass was closer to the rear wheel than the fronts so it wanted to tip that rear wheel over, and the front wheels couldn’t stop it with so little weight on them. It as about a 30/70% weight distribution on them, front to back, whereas our current generation of tadpole trikes average about 60/40% front to back.

Innesenti Trikes

This has got to be the Ferrari of trikes, but at $11,000 it should look sexy. I don’t know if it is a trike or a work of art, or both.  Check it out at Innesenti trikes.


Front Wheel Drive Recumbent, 1950

What is the big deal about front wheel drive recumbents?  Here is one that is really cool, from 1950.  It has an internally geared hub, and a very stylish body.  This would be a cool bike!

fwd recumbent 1950.40

Early FWD Recumbent

Thomas Traylor’s 1982 design patent for a front wheel drive two wheeled recumbent, very similar in design to a Cruzbike Silvio.  Considering Maria Parker’s new 12 hour record, set on a Cruzbike, maybe Traylor was ahead of his time!

fwd recumbent30

Cruzbike recumbent rider sets new world record!

Maria Parker, mother of 2, recently set a new record for miles traveled in 12 hours.  She stopped before the 12 hours were up, and covered 241.01 miles. As noted on the Cruzbike site, “She not only set the recumbent 12-hour course record for women, but she went farther than any previous female road biker had ever done in this race. She also went farther than any woman on any recumbent bike at any UMCA non-drafting 12-hour event. At Bike Sebring in Florida, which appears to be the place where 12-hour records are set for recumbent male riders, the 12-hour record for a recumbent woman is 137 miles.”

Saratoga2 035a small

The men’s record is 241.5 miles in 12 hours.

Wright Brothers Cycles Reborn

The Wright brothers’ Van Cleve mark lives on in a modern namesake, the Van Cleve bike built by Cycles Gaansari of Springboro Ohio.  Here is what Gary Boulanger of Cycles Gaansari adds:

Much is known about the Wright Brothers’ aviation results, but little has been told about how the men designed and tested their theories, and how big a role bicycle technology played in their research and development. Like most self-sufficient and frugal bicyclists, the brothers scrounged discarded bike components to make something useful out of something lying around the shop. In this case, it wasn’t a fixed gear or townie bike, but the airplane that was created, born from Wilbur’s vision for flight in the 1890s.

wright van cleave

Cycles Gaansari was born from the need to provide reliable service, durable goods, and exciting products to the Greater Dayton cycling community. We’re housed in a former livery stable/barn built in Springboro in the 1850s, just three miles south of the Wright Brothers Airport, and across the street from the Jonathan Wright House, now a popular bed & breakfast, built by the founder of Springboro in 1815.

write van cleave2

To many, the bicycle is a tool for transportation, adventure, freedom, and recreation. Little did the inventors of the bicycle know what impact they’d have on millions of people. Then again, little did two bicycle manufacturers from Dayton, Ohio realize where their dream of manned flight would catapult both them and the fruit of their labor.

wright van cleave3

Rear Suspension Bike, 1891

Here is a rear suspension bike from 1891 which used springs in a tube to give some give to the rear wheel.

1891 rear sus2

Harry Lawson’s Bicyclette

James Starley’s Rover of 1885 was the first successful bike in which pedals and a crank drove the rear wheel with a chain, but he was not the first with that design.  In 1879 Englishman Harry Lawson  designed and patented a version of a large front wheeled bike with a smaller rear wheel driven by cranks and a chain.   Lawson’s bike was not very well received, and he went on to design bikes using levers for power transmission.  The Bicyclette was a commercial failure, but he had hit upon a superior design feature.

lawson bicyclet

This artwork of the Bicyclette is a version featured on cigarette cards.  This and other bicycle art is found at  Framed versions of these beautiful cigarette cards, posters , cards, and other bicycle art  recognize that brilliant design is art.

The First Rear Suspension Bike, 1891

Here is another candidate for the first rear suspension bicycle design, from 1891. Its modern counterpart is shown below.


rear sus modern

The First Front Suspension Bicycle

Here is a very early version of front suspension on a bike.  In this patent from 1891 there is a spring in the headset, and the fork assembly can move back and forth to absorb road shock.

1891 front sus