Humber electric tandem

Humber’s Electric Tandem, 1897

This ebike is quite an interesting one: an electric tandem invented at the end of the 19th century. It was displayed for the first time at the Stanley Show in 1897, and it was put to use in 1899. During the 1899 Bol d’Or (a bike race that took place in Paris and lasted 24 hours) the electric tandem was used to set the pace for the cyclists riding on regular bicycles.

Humber’s electric tandem was unfortunately set up for failure. For track races, it was soon replaced by vehicles fueled by oil and it was pretty much ignored by everyone else. We don’t know much about the technicalities of this tandem, but we’re pretty sure it must have been very heavy because of its 4 batteries.  It was heavier than a regular tandem for sure, which wasn’t exactly one of the favourite vehicles of the time either.

The “etandem” was produced by Humber, a company born in mid 1800s and that was popular because of its cars. It kept producing cars until the 70s, when it had already been acquired by Chrysler.
Like we mentioned before, Humber’s tandems didn’t have a huge success. The company stopped producing them altogether in 1904, and only made them custom (both electric and regular ones).

Humber cycles

This electric tandem shows us that even at that time people were interested in an alternative to internal combustion engines, which were very noisy and smelled bad.
Technology was not evolved enough yet, and this allowed the combustion engine to completely dominate the market and impose itself as the first solution for mass motorization.

Old Humber electric tandem
Another Humber’s tandem: 1908’s Lady Back 22



Humber’s Electric Tandem, 1897 last modified: 2015-02-18T09:02:06+00:00 by Paolo

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