A barrel of laughs

These historic bicycle videos are hilarious.

I’ve been exploring old bicycle films through CriticalPast, a video archive service, and see that extreme jackass behavior isn’t a new thing. Some of these CriticalPast films are like FAIL Blog videos from nearly a century ago. In this video from 1921, a man attempts flight on a bicycle equipped with wings and a rocket motor. I love the matter of fact description from CriticalPast:

Two men push a third on a bicycle.

The rider is dressed as an aviator.

The bicycle has wings and empennage fastened to it.

Another man runs alongside, carrying a bucket of water.

As the bicycle speed increases, one of the men strikes a match and ignites a rocket in the tail of the bicycle.

The rocket boost causes the cyclist to lose control and he and the bicycle turn to the left and fall to the ground amidst smoke and fire.

The man with the bucket arrives and douses the rider with water.

This video of the same event includes some of the leadup to the aviator’s flight attempt.

This video from 1930 shows a German stuntman deliberately cycling into a brick wall at high speed.

I’ve mentioned some of Joe Steinlauf’s frankenbike creations before. You can see his family sewing bike and his tallbike in this video, but check out the funky wobble bike begining at about 0:25 in this video! I don’t believe I’ve seen that before. At 10 seconds in, you can also see a bicycle that seems to be propelled by bobbing up and down on an off-center axle.


  1. Wow, that rocket moved about 3ft on the ground on its own. Let’s strap it to a 50lb bike with a 200lb rider, and it will *definitely* make him fly! Ha!

    I think the most amazing part is the guy that jumps from the wall and smashes the ground. His wheel doesn’t even look out of true. Amazing how sturdy bikes were then.

  2. Yeah 🙂

    I found another description giving the names. Two of the helpers – William Modes & Ralph Spergis- were mechanics for Douglas Aircraft at that airport. Spergis became an airport manager, while Modes moved on to become a Director at Northrup.

  3. Back then they called it creativity and ingenuity, and apparently that worked great for them. Today if a manager/director had a failblog-worthy video, they might get fired.

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