Check out these crazy bikes, evolved (as the best looking do) through the specialised competition of pacing.
Popluar in the 1920s onwards this was sort of like the European version of board track racing. Teams consisting of a motorcycle and a bicycle (or 'Stayer' bikes) would race around a velodrome at up to 75mph. The bicycles keeping up with the motorbikes which provided an aerodynamic slipstream, often 'regulated' through the leather suits worn by the riders.
Both riders recieved medals though it wasn't unknown for the motorcyclists to fix the races. Crashes were painful and once a fuel tank exploded in Berlin killing nine spectators.
The motorcycles had a roller behind them to control how close the bicycle could get. They were also MASSIVE in both engine and size. They had to accelerate smoothly (for obvious reasons) and so scrapped gears or clutches and just chugged up to speed.
1928 Anzani 2400cc ioe (above). Next three are by Meyer and also 2400cc:
Recognise those forks
Cool cylinder fins
Three cylinders. Mad seat position and handlebars.
The bicycles were also specialised and designed to get the rider as far forwards as possible into the slipstream. Small front wheels and minimal rake helped and reversed forks gave extra trail for high-speed stability. Highly geared, no brakes. I also love the saddle and handlebar braces.
So ugly I want to *ahem* ride it.
Moser's stayer bike. He almost died during a pacing race. Didn't stop his career though.
Nice ear protectors.