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In early 1869 when the nation experienced its first bicycle craze, Maine was among the hardest-hit regions. Portland boasted one of the first and largest manufactories, and indoor rinks proliferated statewide in frenzied anticipation of the dawning “era of road travel. ” In this article, the author traces the movement in Maine within an international context and tackles the fundamental riddle: Why was the craze so intense, and yet so brief? He challenges the conventional explanation - that technical inadequacies doomed the machine - and cites economic obstacles: in particular, the unreasonable royalty demands imposed by Maine-born patent-holder Calvin Witty. David V. Herlihy holds a B.A. in the history of science from Harvard University. A specialist on bicycle history, he is a free-lance writer based in Boston. His works have appeared in a number of noted magazines, and he is currently preparing a book on Pierre Lallement and the invention of the bicycle.