Railway velocipede

Energy & Sustainability
Railway velocipede

From Engineering News of February, 1895 “The wheels have rubber bands 3 ins. wide and 3-16 in. thick on the tread, which make the machine run easily without jar, and also without noise, so that the rider can catch the sound of approaching trains.” – [via] Link.

I really want to build one of these and do some riding on old tracks.

Another version from Montreal’s McCord Museum of Canadian History – Link.

10 thoughts on “Railway velocipede

  1. jeffyoungstrom says:

    Back in the 1980s, a friend hacked an outrigger and shoe onto a 10-speed road bike. I can’t quite remember how he did it, but there was aluminum tubing and skateboard wheels involved.

    I rode it once. It worked okay as long as you resisted any impulse to lean away from the outrigger. If you leaned, you went over and it was a long way down with the extra height of the rail and the ties and the railbed. Some low-slung bike would feel safer.

  2. newuser007 says:


    it looks interesting enough to try once.

  3. Fooley says:

    erm…why not just a regular bike? that way youdont have the whole “inevitable death” thing.

    1890’s xtreme sports?

  4. wolfharper says:

    Three-wheeled rail vehicles are tricky to design because on railroad wheels, the flange is only on the inside. Think of an “L” shaped machine (two wheels across from each other). What keeps the third from pivoting inward and falling off the rail?

    At railbike.com they put flanges on both sides of one rail, and the outrigger has no flanges at all. Solves the problem but derails on any special track structure (switches, crossings).

    It goes without saying that tiny machines like this are far too perilous to ride on rails at anything resembling “speed”.

    Compare to industrial-grade vehicles. MT14 or M19 track speeders do 30-35 mph, and the old seesaw type handcars about the same. “A” type speeders were authorized for 65 mph on some railroads. Hy-rails are recommended for 45 mph top speed.

    There was also an industrial-grade “railbike” complete with a small Briggs engine for propulsion. The rider sat over one rail, but the machine was square (4 wheels) and could fold up to fit inside a car trunk. Top speed was 10-15 mph or so.

  5. RussNelson says:

    Dick Bentley has plans for converting a regular bicycle into a railbike. You need 1) an outrigger with a skateboard wheel riding on the other rail, and 2) a tracker for the front wheel which keeps the wheel aligned with the rail. The rear wheel follows the front wheel which by virtue of the tracker, is always lined up with the rail. No flanges necessary, and the bicycle can still be operated on roads.

    Searching for Bentley Railbike will find it.

Comments are closed.

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

current: @adafruit - previous: MAKE, popular science, hackaday, engadget, fallon, braincraft ... howtoons, 2600...

View more articles by Phillip Torrone


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).