Does anyone remember the aqua bike?
Last year, a television news progamme featured the idea of human-powered water cycles.
An Oamaru Mail reader later contacted us about recalling seeing something in the newspaper about a similar local invention years ago.
So, the question was posed to Dave Martyn, at Martyns Cycles, who responded with that old classic: “If my memory serves me well ..”.
Yes, he did remember something about a bike that went on water.
And yes, it was made by his grandfather, Joe Martyn, the founder of the Oamaru cycle shop.
A quick rummage by his eldest brother, Graeme, through the family photo album and on the North Otago Museum website dug up a couple of images the brothers think show their grandfather designed and built a working water cycle, which he regularly rode out on Kakanui’s river estuary early last century.
“I remember, as a kid, seeing bits of it up on the wall in the boat shed out at the family crib by the Kakanui river, back in the 1950s,” Dave Martyn said.
He remembers hearing that his grandfather built the bike as a project, mounting an old woman’s bike on to two pontoons that he made himself and then using small slats mounted to the rear wheel to propel it through the water.
He rode it around using a canoe paddle as the rudder.
“There was always bits of it lying around the boat shed, and the frame and the pontoons were rusty and in a pretty run-down state,” Dave Martyn recalled.
“It all went to the tip a long time ago. I never got to ride it but it looked a lot of fun.”
The brothers are sure another photo shows Jim Martyn (their uncle, Joe’s youngest son) riding on the contraption at Kakanui in about 1936.
The water bike also appears faintly in an even older photo – about 1929 – and Graeme said it was most likely Joe aboard the bike.
Dave recalls that several other people in Oamaru had also made aqua bikes.
Joe Martyn founded Martyns Cycles in 1913, and moved the business in 1916 to Thames St, where the family still runs the business today. Joe’s great-grandson, Brent, now runs the workshop.