Farm Collector

A Bicycle Built for Two

Reader Contribution by James N. Boblenz

At the turn of the century, the pace of life was much slower.

Patent 588,361: Bicycle built for two patented by Benjamin F. Shurz, Marion, Ohio, Aug. 17, 1897.

Land mass transportation was by railroad trains, inter-urbans, stagecoach and such. There were no automobiles or buses.

Local transportation was limited to walking, horse or horse-and-buggy or bicycle. The bicycle was the most economical and efficient means of individual local transport.

Edward Huber lent a hand here. On Aug. 17, 1897, Benjamin F. Shurz, Marion, Ohio, was awarded a patent (No. 588,361) for his idea for a bicycle-built-for-two. On the application, he assigned a one-third interest to Edward Huber.

Frank Huber, Edward’s son, although employed with Huber’s other enterprises, had a cycle shop in which it is believed the Shurz bicycle was built and from which the cycle was marketed. This enterprise was successful in that it provided for the manufacture and sale of a bicycle built for two.

This was no ordinary bicycle. It was a bicycle built for two. Today we view a bicycle built for two as designed for tandem riding – one person riding directly behind the other. But with the Shurz design, the riders rode side by side.

This was a wonderful arrangement for a young man and his lady friend. They could ride together and converse as they rode. They had to be in no hurry, because wherever it was they were going was not as important as being together.

Riding side by side could have been a great opportunity for two business men to compare plans, discuss business opportunities or a change of course in their manufacturing operation. Besides, it would have given good friends a chance to just ride together in peace.

The author’s wife, Rosemary, with a bicycle built for two at Disney Boardwalk, Kissimmee, Fla. (Click the image for a larger version.)

The Shurz bicycle was not just two bicycles assembled together. Instead, it had a rather wide frame with wheels at the outside. There were, of course, two stations for riders, each having a steering apparatus and pedals. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a roller chain. When turning, both front wheels turned, but the rider on the side in which they were turning had to stop pedaling to put that side of the contraption in a free wheeling mode. It was not equipped with a differential to let the inside wheel move at a slower pace than the outside wheel.

To my knowledge, none of these early Shurz/Huber bicycles exist. However, the design is in use yet today. All one has to do is to visit the Disney Boardwalk at Kissimmee, Fla. There one can rent bicycles built for two, four and six to pedal around the boardwalk.

  • Published on Feb 3, 2010
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