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Monday, 10 October 2011

Bi-CycLe (Vinco)

I came across this curious put-together puzzle for the first time last month at the 100th Camden Puzzle Gathering. It was both designed and manufactured by Vinco (Václav Obšivač) in the Czech Republic.

It is called Bi-CycLe, and it was Laurie Brokenshire's exchange puzzle at this years International Puzzle Party in Berlin (IPP31). I met Laurie for the first time at the Camden Gathering, and it was he who handed me a copy to try out. While I was at the gathering I had this puzzle in my hands for a decent portion of the evening, and I had completely failed to solve it! So that was definitely a good indication that this was likely to be a great puzzle. A friend of mine bought a copy of this puzzle from Laurie on the evening, and very kindly loaned it to me, so although I completely failed to solve it there and then I was given a chance to redeem myself later on.

Here's a bit of what Laurie has to say about the puzzle:
"By a strange coincidence it is possible to make at least one solid structure with these Bi-pieces; the target shape has 5 planes of symmetry and holds together extremely well. Since we're talking about Bi-CycLe here, though, the finished solution also has 4 axes of rotational symmetry of order 2, to represent Laurie & Ethel's 4 wheel axles (and 1 axes of order 4 as well, to represent the pedals!?)."

The puzzle itself is made from cherry, and is comprised of twelve balls and ten rods, but these are glued together to form two very interesting identical pieces. The main thing that makes these pieces interesting is that the pieces have a sort of 'free-wheeling' element to them. It's hard to describe, but check out the pictures. Three balls are connected in a circle to each other with the rods acting as spacers, and these completely encircle another set of three balls and two rods which are connected in an 'L' shape. I've not come across anything quite like this before in an assembly puzzle.

Because of the nature of the pieces I really didn't know where to begin other than sort of squashing the two pieces together to see what would happen. Unsurprisingly every time I tried this I ended up with the same two pieces, so there was clearly more to it than that. I managed to come very close to solving it quite a few times, but one of the balls would always end up being at the wrong end of the puzzle.

Eventually I did manage to solve Bi-CycLe, but it took me far longer than I had expected. I must've spent a good hour on it before working it out. There is a really nice twist to the solution, and as Laurie mentioned above the final assembly is incredibly sturdy. It's very unlikely that it would fall apart by itself.

For some more of Vinco's puzzles check out Vinco's own website and Puzzle Master's Vinco page.


  1. I think the lengthy and mathematical description of this puzzle is harder to solve than the physical puzzle!

  2. You're not wrong there George!

  3. I wasn't intending to be HELPFUL, George!!
    (Although it is all true, of course!)


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