The Art of Whimsy

Whimsy is a very delicate kind of fun.

In my last email with Sylvan Steenhuis, friend and valued visionary, I mentioned my interest in the “crazy bikes” of Amsterdam. Specifically, the bike bar I read about. The one that looks like this:

bike bar

…and Sylvan explained, sadly, that they tend to park their bike bar in the middle of a bike lane, and become the target of many curses and finger gestures and head shakes. And, in retrospect, they’re more about selling drinks than about fun.

Which made me think about the art of whimsy, and how, when you try to make it too practical, it rubs wrongly against the heart strings.

And then Sylvan shared the some bits of sheer bike-related silliness. I saw this, and my heart sang

A human-powered merry-go-round. Sheer whimsy. Something clearly not intended to be taken seriously. Something clearly fun. The circular bike. It doesn’t go anywhere. Just round and round. Merrily, merrily, merrily.

And then I thought more about the seven-person Conference Bike, which has caused much smilage on my part simply in the contemplation of such a thing. And I found this video:

…through this Huffington Post article where I also read about how it was being put to similarly bicycle-path-, sidewalk- and lane-blocking use, and how it was furthermore being touted as one more jolly weapon in the fight against obesity, and as a school bus alternative, which, in my mind and heart made it, like the bar bike, travel a bit too far beyond the bounds of whimsy.

And then I looked at another of Sylvan’s bikes:

The walking bike. Whimsy incarnated.

And the Bike Around a Tree that allows you to pedal, recumbently, whilst meditating on leaves and branches and clouds and birds and squirrels and all things treeful. Sheer whimsy.

Ah, whimsy. Sweet whimsy.

And then, almost replete, yet driven by a curious curiosity, I hied myself conceptually o’er to Google to search for yet further evidence of bike-related whimsy, only to find myself more amazed than amused by the many moving miracles found here – inventions that seem to border on whimsy, but manage to go a bit too far beyond, like this Spokeless Bike.


beautiful to behold, an engineering marvel, no doubt, but, like all whimsical works that try to deny their essential whimsishnesss, become something less as soon as we attempt to put them to too serious use.

1 Comment

  1. Sylvan on October 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Nice to see we share an interest for the two wheeled whimsical. My brother and me have a blog on just this, check it out over at

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