Photo recall: And not a stitch of fluorescent lycra in sight

By Michael Botur

With its lack of manoeuvrability, it's perhaps no surprise that recumbent bicycle didn't become popular.

Photo / NZ Herald, Photo research / Emma Land
Photo / NZ Herald, Photo research / Emma Land

Allister Worrall once asked his grandfather, known for his long arms and legs, why his nickname was Spider.

"If your name was Aylmer, you'd want to find another name too," Spider replied.

"I don't think he loved his name," Allister laughs. "The name Aylmer Worrall is a mouthful."

Spider was photographed in the Auckland Domain on May 19, 1990, pedalling an ancient bicycle prototype imported more than seven decades ago from the Cyclo Gear Company in Birmingham, England.

Today, Worralls Cycle and Sport Distributors remains a major Auckland bicycle importer. "The bike was revolutionary at the time. It was unusual. It's been floating around the warehouse ever since I was a kid. It's a freak. It doesn't bear any resemblance to today's 10-speed bikes.

"Although there are lots of recumbent bikes today, it's still the most unusual bike. It's particularly strange. If you're riding it around, people ask questions about it.

I've ridden it myself. It's not uncomfortable, but it's not particularly manoeuvrable. It's not easy to balance on it.

"I don't think they imported lots of them."

Decades ago it wasn't so bizarre to see an octogenarian pedalling a recumbent bicycle in dress shoes and pants. "Back in the day, people wore ordinary clothes," Allister says. "They didn't have spandex. You didn't need it."

- Herald on Sunday

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