New Zealand based Frank Clavis said on the bikebiz bulletin board that American Gary Silva's Taiwanese choppers and Australian Peter Clutton's Stylyx bike are "choosing to be and innovation are the life blood of the bike industry..." If that's so, you don't get much more different than the sideways bike from Michael Killian of America...

Cycling sideways: the science of lateral thinking

"I have invented a new and unique bicycle," Killian emailed from America.

It’s unique alright. See the picture above for confirmation.

"It has front and rear steering and the rider sits facing sideways," said the Boston-based bike boffin.

Killian is a regular at Interbike and he bamboozled show visitors last year by riding his Sideways bike to and from the expo.

Here’s Killian’s take on ‘the science of human balance’ and how it relates to his bicycle:

"Human balance is detected in the inner ear. There are three semi-circular canals positioned at right angles to each other that detect balance in three axes. These canals are separate and distinct. The three types of balance are Left to Right, Front to Back and Rotational (Yaw).

"Left to Right balance is what people are most familiar with and is the primary balance used for riding a regular bicycle or indeed flying a plane. In the case of flying a plane there is a visual supplement to left to right balance provided by the observation of the horizon line.

"Front to Back balance has very little visual input and is the primary balance used in riding a surfboard, windsurfer and snowboard. Front to Back balance is a finer instrument than Left to Right balance and offers a greater degree of artistic feedback. This is evidenced by the difference between skiing and snowboarding. Skiing (Left to Right balance) is faster than Snowboarding (Front to Back balance); however people like to snowboard because of the greater artistic expression."

Killian’s Sideways bike is balanced by using ‘front to back balance’.

"This bicycle uses front and rear steering, impossible on bicycles using left to right balance)," said Killian.

"It is difficult to predict the commercial success of any invention. However, it is worthwhile and newsworthy to spread the word of a legitimate invention. My feeling is that this new bicycle invention will appeal to people seeking more artistic expression in a bicycle."

Killian believes there’s potential for his bike in the youth market, with an adult version following later.

Now then, as the old folk at the Institute of Cycle Engineers are only too quick to point out, every ‘new’ cycle invention has, in all probability, been tried first in the Victorian-Edwardian heyday of cycling. All except what we today consider the normative bicycle were found wanting in one respect or another. So, somebody somewhere will be able to dig out a patent – or at least a drawing – of a sideways-propelled bicycle. Or is Killian’s invention a genuine first?

Mind you, being first doesn’t mean you’ve got a commercial winner on your hands (although Bo the Bicycling Clown will no doubt be interested in Killian’s bike).

Loads more pix at:

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