1980s Junior Velocino ‘Bye Bike Boy’

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In 1933, Ernesto Pettazzoni, an engineer from Bologna, Italy, applied for a British patent for his ultra=short-wheelbase semi-recumbent machine, the Velocino. It represented a wheelchair chopped in half, with the seat over the normal-sized rear wheel. The tiny front wheel was about 10 inches in diameter. The handlebar was reversible, giving the option of under-seat steering. Mussolini is said to have commissioned the Velocino as a compact, easily stored urban vehicle. The project attracted a lot of attention but was canceled after Italy entered Word War II.

–  Bicycle Design: An Illustrated History, by Tony Hadland, Hans-Erhard Lessing, Nick Clayton, Gary W. Sanderson

Since Ernesto Pettazzoni’s original Velocino was launched and, unfortunately, canceled soon after, several other companies launched bicycles inspired by his design. Union of Holland introduced the ‘Strano’ in 1964 – designed by Bernard Overing of Deventer – and, a year later, inventor Emil Friedman of Germany exhibited a similar machine he called the ‘Donkey.’

In the 1960s, Raleigh brought out various bicycles featuring unusual designs, including a Velocino, but very few were made. A modern version was launched by Italian company Abici recently as a budget bicycle priced around £500, and it has had a favourable reception.

But the most interesting version is undoubtedly the ‘Bye Bike Boy’ which was the only junior size version of the Velocino. It was manufactured in Spain for a short time in the 1980s, made with the American market in mind. I first came across this interesting model at the Metz Museum in New Jersey, USA.

Unfortunately, despite its unique size (36″ long/32″ high), forward-position bottom bracket and stylish curved pedal cranks, plus practical points such as a Torpedo coaster brake, it was not very successful in sales terms. However, it achieved immediate cult status in the USA among bicycle collectors.

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1980s Junior Velocino ‘Bye Bike Boy’

LENGTH: 36″

HEIGHT: 32″

1980s Velocino BYE BIKE BOY 2

With the bottom bracket in the forward position, the design of the children’s version of the Velocino remains true to the original. Raleigh’s version, seen below, has the bottom bracket in a more conventional middle position.

 

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1960s RALEIGH VELOCINO

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1960s RALEIGH VELOCINO

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1939 JOHN PLAYER CIGARETTE CARDS: No 30 VELOCINO

1935 Velocino

The way many of my friends and I learned about bicycles as youngsters was through cigarette cards. No 30 of Players ‘Cycling’ series introduced us to the ‘Italian Velocino Bicycle.’

1 – Pedestrian Hobby-Horse
2 – Lady’s Pedestrian Hobby-Horse
3 – MacMillan’s Lever-Driven Bicycle
4 – Sawyer’s Velocipede
5 – Michaux Velocipede
6 – Coventry Rotary Tricycle
7 – Singer Tricycle
8 – “Salvo” Tricycle
9 – Lawson’s “Bicyclette”
10 – Sociable Tricycle
11 – Post Office Centre-Cycles
12 – “Invincible” Bicycle
13 – Rucker Tandem Bicycle
14 – “Rover” Safety Bicycle
15 – “Invincible” Tandem Tricycle
16 – Olympia Tandem Tricycle
17 – The First Pneumatic-Tyred Bicycle
18 – A Notable Tricyclist – F. T. Bidlake
19 – Simpson Lever Chain
20 – Companion Safety Bicycle
21 – Bicycle of the Late ’90s
22 – Tandem of the ’90s
23 – Pacing Triplet
24 – Novel Tandem of the ’90s
25 – Lady Cyclist, 1896
26 – Dursley Pedersen Cantilever Bicycle
27 – Lady Cyclist Wearing Divided Skirt
28 – Lady Cyclist, 1939
29 – Lady’s Bicycle (3 Speed Gear and Dynamo Lighting)
30 – Italian Velocino Bicycle
31 – Touring Tandem
32 – Racing Tandem
33 – Racing Tricycle
34 – Path Racing Bicycle
35 – Light Roadster Bicycle
36 – Horizontal Bicycle
37 – Road Time Trial Bicycle
38 – American Bicycle
39 – Saddles
40 – Family Tandem With Side-Car
41 – Cyclists & the Y. H. A.
42 – International Cycle Touring
43 – Six-Day Racing
44 – Massed-Start Racing Position
45 – Track Tandem Position
46 – Touring Position
47 – Road Time Trial Position
48 – Track Racing Position
49 – Road Records: S. H. Ferris
50 – Bicycle Polo