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Fanciful Velocipede of the Day: The Return of the Dandy Horse

The Dandy Horse returns with a new name and a new mojo.

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Fliz Bike

In 1817, the Baron Karl Drais of Mannheim invented a device that would change the world. Drais had studied architecture and physics at the University of Heidelberg, and he wanted to create a machine that a man could ride and move with his own power. The result was a seat balanced between two wheels, which, if kept at a reasonable speed, would seemingly defy gravity and stay upright. Karl Drais had invented the Luftmaschine, otherwise known as the Dandy Horse.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Drais died in poverty, and his invention was eventually modified to produce what we recognize today as the bicycle. Like sharks, bicycles haven't evolved much. The two-wheeled, pedal-driven, chain-clicking, hand-braking bicycle is a universally recognized model of consistency. People have experimented with bicycles with one wheel, or three, or with no brakes at all, but the standard-issue bicycle prevails.

But now, out of Drais's own Germany, comes a model that no one (to our knowledge) has tried since the heyday of the Dandy Horse. Designers Juri Spetter and Tom Hambrock have come up with the Fliz Bike, a knowing tribute to Baron Drais that seems ride-ready for the streets of Brooklyn. The name comes from the German word Flitzen, which means "speeding," and the project is currently a contender for the James Dyson Award for international student design. As one YouTube commenter points out, it could difficult going uphill.

Here's the design:

And here's a video of the Fliz in action:

All Fliz Bike images courtesy of Fliz Bike.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.