Riding the Unusual: Strange and Surprising Transportation Methods

By Jack Ripley | April 8, 2024

The Head-Scratching Novelty: the Monowheel

Curious about the types of transportation that have dotted societies over the years? Explore a gallery of unconventional rides that defy the ordinary. From the graceful glides of dragon boats to the peculiar pedals of the penny-farthing, here are some stories behind these unique modes of transport. Whether it's balancing on a unicycle or cruising on a bamboo train, each of these modes of transport offers a charming blend of innovation, eccentricity, and a dash of historical flair.

test article image
Getty Images

The monowheel, a single-wheeled wonder, rolled onto the transportation scene in the late 19th century, capturing imaginations with its eccentric design. One of the earliest prototypes, the Dynasphere, emerged in the 1930s, featuring a giant wheel housing the driver inside. While visually striking, monowheels faced challenges in terms of stability and control.

Despite occasional bursts of popularity, these unicycle-like contraptions never became mainstream modes of transport. Riding a monowheel required a delicate balance between innovation and impracticality. With limited maneuverability and safety concerns (the driver had to lean in the direction of travel), the monowheel struggled to gain widespread acceptance. While not necessarily "bad ideas," these wheel-within-a-wheel marvels remained more of a novelty than a practical means of transportation, leaving the legacy of the monowheel as an eccentric chapter in the history of inventive locomotion.


 

Dare to Soar Differently With the Gyrocopter

test article image
ABC News

The gyrocopter, a quirky blend of airplane and helicopter, took flight in the 1920s with the inventiveness of Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva. Sporting an unpowered rotor that spins freely in flight, the gyrocopter relies on an engine-driven propeller for thrust. This ingenious design offers the ability to take off and land in short distances, making it a versatile flying machine.

Though not as ubiquitous as traditional aircraft, gyrocopters found roles in agriculture, surveillance, and even recreation. Enthusiasts marveled at their blend of simplicity and agility. While not everyone adopted gyrocopters for daily commuting, they proved far from bad ideas. Instead, these eccentric flying contraptions showcased the inventiveness of aviation enthusiasts, offering a thrilling and distinctive way to navigate the skies. The gyrocopter remains a symbol of unconventional flight, turning the sky into an open canvas for those who dare to soar differently.