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May 19, 2012

Hell on Wheels: 14 Crazy Bikes From the 1940s

A collection of photos from the 1940s that belie the famous old saying that there's no such thing as a useless bicycle.

Four-man bicycle is powered by five chains and has brakes on both its wheels. The bike was built by Art Rothschild (top position) who broke three ribs while learning how to ride it.

Only springs connect rear of Maurice Steinlauf's bike with roving front wheel.

Uno-Wheel, if braked suddenly, has been known to spin its rider round and round inside the big main wheel.

Square-wheeled bike held by Bernard Steinlauf was built by son Dave after seeing a bicycle wreck.

Gangbusters Bike mounts 13 shotguns, two revolvers, six bayonets, flare gun.

Riding a preposterous bicycle, Chicago, 1948.

Men on bike, Chicago, 1948.

Chicago, 1948.

Unicycle, Chicago, 1948.

Ice Bike, with protective mittens on handles, is Joe Steinlauf's own solution to Chicago's icy winter streets.

Chicago bicycle dealer Andy Koslow rides a tiny bike built by a former vaudevillian.

Rough ride, Chicago, 1948.

Bicycle, Chicago, 1948.

Bedstead Bike was dreamed up by Joe Steinlauf, who got the idea while lying around in bed one morning.

(Photos: Wallace Kirkland—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

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