Adam Savage Attempts to Build a Pedal-Powered Strandbeest

Art & Sculpture Bikes Craft & Design Drones & Vehicles
Adam Savage Attempts to Build a Pedal-Powered Strandbeest

Not since Rube Goldberg has a kinetic artist had more of an impact on makers than Dutch artist, Theo Jansen. His “Strandbeest,” autonomous beach creatures, have truly captured the imaginations of artists, makers, engineers, and dreamers throughout the world.

The complex walking mechanism that Jansen developed for his wandering, wind-driven sculptures has been adapted to all manner of things, from a Lego Strandbeest to hamster-powered Strandbeest to drill-driven walking machines.

YouTube player

In this “One Day Build” video (which turned into a two day build video), Adam Savage of tries his hand at making a pedal-powered Strandbeest of his own design. He did the build as part of his Artist in Residence stint at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Sometimes, the best laid plans…

The video is a little nervous-making as Adam races against the clock and hits several significant road blocks. I found myself getting invested in the outcome and at several points even found myself yelling at the screen. “Get rid of those damn sneaker feet! They are not going to work!” They didn’t.

In the end, as darkness descends on the second evening of the build, Adam finally enjoys a small taste of success. While painful to watch at times, it is always educational to see problem-solving in action and to finally get to share in the sense of accomplishment when someone sticks to a vexing project and finally powers through to something that can pass for a successful result. You do get the sense that, with more time and some additional adjustments, he could get a real, sustained walking gait out of his beast.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.