Dave Moulton

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A noble ride on a strange machine


This strange looking contraption was built by me in England late in 1978 just before I left for the USA. It was commissioned by the National Enquirer for a photo shoot of the Rosenkowitz sextuplets on the occasion of their sixth birthday in 1979.

The machine was shipped to South Africa where the Rosenkowitz family lived. It seated eight, and was designed to carry the parents plus the three boys and three girls. The actual picture of the family that appeared in the National Enquirer is shown below.

I had often wondered what had happened to the machine after the photo shoot. Well apparently it is still in South Africa, and has just resurfaced again; it is being put to good use in a charity ride.

Mark Thijs a competitive cyclist has been diagnosed with bladder cancer. After six operations and three sets of chemo, he sold his business and went into semi retirement to take care of his health.

He is pictured in the top photo in the front seat. He has managed to borrow this same eight seater bike from its current owner, and with his friend Derrick Nitch acting as stoker, he is planning a charity ride from Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa.

They plan to have teams of children aged 8 to 12 years ride in relays on a route that I estimate to be around 300 miles.

The picture left shows a slightly rough looking me posing with this bike as I was building it.

This machine is by no means a lightweight; after all it was put together cheaply for a one time photo shoot.

It has a pair of moped wheels with drum brakes front and rear, but only has a single freewheel with a ratio somewhere in the 50 inch range as I remember.

It does my heart good to know that this bike is not rusting away somewhere, but rather is being put to good use in this fashion.

I just went to Mark’s “BackaBuddy” page and donated 200 South African Rand, which converts to just under $30 (US Dollars.) I hope some of you can contribute to this worthy effort; you can type in a lesser amount than R200 if you wish. 

Here is a converter for other currencies. Your credit card company may also charge a small percentage for the currency conversion.

More pictures of Mark, Derrick and the kids here



Reader Comments (7)

wow, that must feel wonderful to know the bike is being used for such a good cause!

it's obvious that you put a lot of thought into the design of the bike, to be able to accommodate adults and children at the same time. your design looks strikingly similar to current-day bike friday tandems. i wonder if they knew of your design?

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersomervillain

I did a few rough sketches and calculated the space needed for each rider based on measurements given to me. It was mostly designed in my head, and I remember I screwed up and didn’t leave provision for the first child’s handlebars. I had to lengthen the sloping down tube, move the first rider’s seat tube forward and weld the BB shell under the down tube. But it turned out OK in the end.

November 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Pretty sweet Dave, did you get a chance to ride

November 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlocals_only

Of course, I had to test ride it. I never had enought children to load it fully, but I rode up front with an adult on the back.
It was actually pretty easy to ride and ballance, due to the weight of the long steel tube at the bottom, plus all those heavy steel cranksets. Much of the weight was below the wheel center.
Cornering was a strange sensation, seated at the front had the feeling of pedaling forward but going sideways.

November 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

thanks for the additional info and sharing your projects.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlocals_only

It's a shame the repaint lost the builder info on the downtube.

November 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Wow, what a nice contraption! I have never ever ridden a tandem bike because I am afraid of crashing. But with the family's happy faces maybe I could go and try it sometime. Good luck to the charity ride!

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPedals Cycling

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