The "cuistax" (go-karts) of the coast defy time


Your stay at the Belgian coast cannot be considered a success until you have taken your family or friends for a ride in a "cuistax" or go-kart, an indestructible Belgian invention from the 1920s and 1930s.

The famous bicycle manufacturer Flandria once had the idea of welding two tandems together. Immediately, the cuistax prototype was born. Toy manufacturers such as Torck and Eureka produced the first go-karts for children. These sturdy iron vehicles were propelled by muscle power from the start.

They come in all sizes, all styles and in a multitude of bright colours. From the smallest carts for children to the largest, sometimes laden down with ten adults and a few small children screaming and yelling as they speed along. You can occasionally see one with a vain white horse at the front, perhaps ridden by a rather useless rider, while two brave men pedal laboriously at the back. And who would dare to sit on a seat under a parasol? There are even cuistax trains, a string of pedal cars, each with its own striped fabric that protects riders from the sun.

Why are these pedal cars called "cuistax" or 'billenkar' in the local dialect? In the post-war period, with its prudish mores, well-to-do ladies used to pull their beach cabins mounted on two huge wheels up to the waterline, so they could dip discreetly into the sea without revealing their "cuisses" (thighs). So it was quite natural that bodywork be added to the front and the sides of the bicycles, to protect skirts inflated by the wind from indecent glances.