Body Sway Drives Eccentric Bicycle 15 Miles Per Hour: CALLED the simplest self-propelled vehicle in the world, a radically new type of bicycle, entirely without pedals, is driven by body motion alone. The rear wheel of this “x-ercycle,” as it is called, is eccentric; the rider stands on a springy footboard and swings his body in rhythm with the up and down movement of the frame to produce forward motion.
After acquiring the correct rhythm of movement a rider can travel long distances comfortably at speeds as high as 15 miles an hour, according to the two Chicago brothers who are its designers. The axle of the rear wheel is mounted some distance from the true center by using wire spokes of different lengths.
– Modern Mechanix, November, 1934
The Ingo Bike converts rider body movements into propulsion energy by way of an eccentric rear wheel. The rear wheel of the Ingo Bike is actually round, however the eccentricity of the rear wheel is created by the hub not being in the center of the wheel. The Ingo Bike riding platform is connected to the rear wheel hub causing the platform to rise and fall as the rear wheel rotates. In order for an Ingo Bike rider to successfully propel the Ingo Bike, the rider must exactly match their body movements to the up and down sine-wave action created by the eccentric rear wheel rotations.
As the rear wheel travels through half of its rotation, the Ingo Bike riding platform is in a state of falling, during which time the Ingo Bike rider must assume a position of pulling on the handlebar while bending knees to a slight squatting position throwing their body-weight rearward. For the second half of rear wheel rotation, the riding platform is in a state rising, during which time the rider must assume a position of pushing on the handlebar while standing up straight throwing their body-weight forward.
The repetitive pulling/squatting-pushing/standing motion of the Ingo Bike rider causes the riding platform to flex. This flexing action of the platform similar to a spring, stores potential energy from the rider, then releases that energy to the eccentric rear wheel. The speed of the Ingo Bike is controlled simply by the amount of effort applied by the rider, and frequency by which the rider repeats the pull/squat-push/stand body motions. The Ingo bike has a front wheel hand brake built into the handle bar, though jumping off is a more effective form of stopping. Since the riding platform is always just a few inches from the ground there is little chance of getting hurt.
The Ingo Bike does require a sense of rhythm. If the rider does not precisely match their body motion rhythm to that of the eccentric rear wheel rotations, the Ingo Bike will quickly lose momentum causing it to slow down and possibly even stop. The question most often asked by spectators is how difficult is it to ride? The answer is; the Ingo Bike is not difficult to ride if you have good body rhythm control matching your body motions to the rhythm of the rear wheel. Anyone capable of dancing precisely in step to the beat of music can probably master Ingo Bike riding within a matter of minutes. However that is not to say the Ingo Bike is especially easy to ride. Operating the Ingo Bike is an aerobic full body workout hence the name given to it of ‘Exercycle’ by its inventors the Huyssen brothers.
1934-37 Ingo-Bike ‘X-ercycle’
Manufactured by the Ingersoll Steel & Disc Co, Chicago, for Borg-Warner
20″ Front Wheel
28″ Rear Wheel
Riding an Ingo-Bike was a ‘craze’ in America in the thirties …although, having ridden one, I have a feeling the craze might have been more in the minds of the advertisers than Ingo scooterists. It’s a wacky machine that attracts a lot of attention when at a standstill, but you can’t help feeling a bit daft bouncing along the road on a giant scooter. It’s no coincidence that much of the publicity positioned the Ingo at the beach: it’s the sort of thing you might want to try out on holiday.
Nevertheless, this eccentric machine was absolutely ideal for advertising. It is impossible to ignore, and Hollywood eagerly embraced this new ‘X-ercycle.’ Curly of the Three Stooges seemed quite at home on his Ingo-Bike – you can see a video of him further down the page – and numerous Hollywood starlets were photographed posing with them for promotional shots. Prohibition ended in America in December, 1933: after the Terre Haute Brewery of Indiana reopened in 1934, they also employed an Ingo-Bike for publicity pictures in local newspapers.
It’s rare to see an Ingo-Bike with original paintwork and headbadge; even the floor mat (below) is original and intact. Ingo-Bikes became popular among collectors in the 1970s and, unfortunately, many Ingo-Bikes were ‘restored’ at that time, repainted in gay colours and fitted with colourful reproduction head badges …America is, after all, the home of cosmetic surgery. Other items sometimes missing that are present on this fine original example are the lifting handle on the rear mudguard, the front brake and the front stand. It’s ready to ride, and I’ve already had a bounce on it through Brighton.
‘THE INGO-BIKE IS FOR EVERYONE FROM 8 to 80’
The health aspect of the ‘X-ercycle’ was a major part of the company’s advertising after the machine was launched. Hollywood starlets were frequently pictured riding Ingo-Bikes.
Rita Hayworth is photographed below on an Ingo-Bike, in a publicity still from the 1936 film ‘Human Cargo’
…while Maxine Doyle was pictured falling off an Ingo-Bike (i.e. sitting on the ground next to one)
1939 THREE STOOGES FILM: ‘YES WE HAVE NO BONANZA’
and here is a youtube video that illustrates
how to ride an Ingo Bike, moving your body in sync with the scooter
WACKY RACES: 1970s LOWRIDER RECUMBENT v 1934-37 INGO BIKE