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Amazing vintage Ben Bowden Spacelander bike can be yours for just £27,000

Creation of influential British designer; only 522 were ever made

Fancy owning an extraordinary piece of cycling history? This amazing-looking machine is a 1960 Ben Bowden Spacelander and if you can’t live without it, it’ll set you back a cool $42,000 (£27,000) from eBay seller Bike Blue Classic USA.

Benjamin Bowden was the car designer and engineer responsible for the Healey 2.4, the first post-WWII 100mph production car, but like Mini suspension designer Alex Moulton after him, he was fascinated by the idea of improving the bike.

In 1946 he showed his Bicycle of the Future  at the Britain Can Make It exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, to public acclaim and amazement.

His patent said he had just intended to "provide improvement of aesthetic and practical character" of the bike, but many features of the bike that became the Spacelander were radical departures for the time.

The frame was made from two steel clamshell halves welded together into a monocoque and the front fork and mudguard was all one piece. The prototype had a shaft drive, a suspension fork, and batteries inside the frame powered lights, a horn, and a built-in radio.

It was far too radical for the deeply conservative British bike industry of the day. Bowden moved to the US to seek backing for the bike and over a decade later, in 1960, the production Spacelander was built in Michigan with a fibreglass frame and more conventional chain drive.

By then its swoopy lines, harking back to the streamlining and tail fins of 1940s and ‘50s American cars looked distinctly dated, and only 522 were made before the company went bust.

Ben Bowden continued to work as a designer until he retired from coordinating designs for military tanks at General Dynamics in 1986 aged 79. He never really recovered from the failure of the Spacelander, even though he could take heart from the widespread use of pressed steel construction in scooters and mopeds that the Spacelander inspired. He died in 1998.

According to the ad, this Spacelander is: “A marvel of mid-century post war aerospace design, this bicycle is a must-have for any collector.”

We’ll have a modern replica in carbon fibre please. Baby blue, of course.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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chrishedick | 2 years ago

Please someone bring this back as a light(er) weight e-bike! And at a slightly lower price point.

cat1commuter | 10 years ago

Looks brilliant! Leads me to wonder what you could do these days in carbon fibre. You could make something which is light, streamlined, and integrates mudguards into the frame and forks in one piece.

Tovarishch | 10 years ago

Interesting there is a German wikipedia page for Benjamin Bowden but I can't find an English one. I prefer it in red.

TeamCC | 10 years ago

That seat looks like a comfy trampoline.

The Rumpo Kid | 10 years ago

...well it tips the scales at fifty pounds, so the weight limit's no problem...

wes13985 | 10 years ago

is it U.C.I legal?  7

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