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1886 MASA Slingshot?

Well, if its not a MASA Slingshot from 1886, at least its a tadpole trike with similar general appearance.  

Tadpole Upright Trike, Underseat Steering

Here is a comfy looking tadpole trike.

This looks like its chain drive, single speed, the rider’s back would be straight up, not leaning forward.  I don’t see any brakes, but if it was direct drive, you could brake by resisting the pedals turning.  This would work well today.


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.

Tadpole Trike, rear wheel steering, front wheel drive, 1950s.

I’m guessing this cool little tadpole trike is from the 1950s, judging by the stylin’ hairdo.  This photo from the site “Modern Mechanix, where “yesterday’s tomorrow is today.”


Tadpole Trike for cargo

Here is an interesting tadpole (two wheels in the front) tricycle, from 1942, which was used to deliver aircraft parts from one part of the North American Aviation factory to another part of the factory.


tricycle 2

Round the World on a Bicycle, 1884

On April 22 1884 a young reporter from England named Thomas Stevens left San Francisco and headed east on a Pope “Columbia” ordinary bicycle.  This was a high wheel type bike, and had a 50 inch front wheel.


A few weeks into his trip he shot a moutain lion, and 103 days and 3700 miles of wagon roads after starting, he was in Boston.  After wintering in New York, he took a steam ship to Liverpool, and rode through England.  He took a ferry to Paris, and rode through Germany, Austria, Hungary and was in Bulgaria by June 24 1885.  A month later he was in Istanbul, and spent 6 months in Persia.  He was arrested in Afganistan and returned to Persia.  By August 1886 he was in India, and two months later he was in Canton China.  He cycled in Japan and headed for San Francisco by steamer and arrived December 24, 1886.  Steven’s wrote a series of letters during his journey which were published in Harper’s magazine.  The letters were collected into a book, Around the World on a Bicycle and is available in reprint and in digital form in the Gutenburg Project.

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

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