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Steam bicycles

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Steam bicycles

There is something in the air, and it’s steam… A few Makers sent in some steam powered bicycles, here’s a round up… know of others? Post in the comments.

The Roper Steam motorcycle “Bob Jorgensen of Memphis took “Motocycles 1899″ and immediately fabricated the engine that Sylvester H Roper used on his steam motorcycle. The original boiler which Bob has yet to build provided 160 to 225 psi of steam. Roper died while racing his motorcycle at the age of 73!”Link.

The Hudspith Steam Bicycle, by Geoff Hudspith The engine is a horizontai single-cylinder, double-acting one of my own design. The bore is 1 3/8″ and the stroke is 1 1/4″, giving about 1/4hp, depending on the pressure of the steam. I ran and exhibited the engine and boiler for several years as a stationary unit driving a 12V dynamo. During this period I made several improvements to the engine, eg: making a boiler feed pump driven by an eccentric on the crankshaft, and controlled by a by-pass valve to the right of the engine.Link.

Michaux-Perreaux steam bicycle – This is normally considered to be the first motorcycle. Built in France, 1868-1869. The engine is mounted at 45 degrees on the main frame member; behind it is the boiler, with what appear to be fuel and water tanks. Note that this is a velocipede, not a Safety Bicycle, and the pedals are mounted directly on the front wheel.Link.

1896 Geneva steam bicycle “This authentically restored bicycle, manufactured by the Geneva Bicycle and Steam Carriage Co. in Geneva Ohio, is fitted with a steam engine built on the design of Lucius Copeland, who built his first steam vehicle based on a Star high wheeled bicycle in 1886. It will travel at 12 miles per hour, although maintaining a head of steam at that speed is difficult.”Link.

26 thoughts on “Steam bicycles

  1. Stokes says:

    Personally, I don’t think I’d want to ride the bikes depicted in images 1, 2 and 4. External combustion engines are cool, but the idea of straddling a pressure-cooker makes me a bit nervous. :)

  2. philliptorrone says:

    jenming – email more details! pt at makezine dot com

  3. jenming says:

    (apologies for the first typo-killed post)
    Here’s a pic of my uncle’s Steam-powered bike, which he built by himself. It obviously wasn’t nearly as early as some of the bikes pictured above. If you’d like more information on it, reply here or send me a message.

  4. Crabfu says:

    Wow jenming, I’d love to see / hear more about your uncle’s bike. Any detail that you can provide would be greatly appriciated :) Now that’s a giant of a piston… double? holly cow… did he ever find and fitted a boiler big enough to power it?

  5. judyofthewoods says:

    I love to see crankshafts being driven by eccentrics. Eccentrics make the world a more colourful place – speaking from experience, of course ;)

  6. dvaidj2k8 says:

    jenming i would love to hear more about & see phots of your uncle’s steam bike, also sum info on how to go about building a good steam bike be very helpfull as i would love to make a steam bike, e-mail me at

  7. JorgensenSteam says:

    A new website has been created for Bob Jorgensen’s workshop photos, steam engines, and steam bicycle.
    Many original photos take by Bob Jorgensen himself, with some steam engine design info.

    http jorgensensteam dot com

  8. Richard Wayne Foisel says:

    I drafted a modern one and have full plans for converting an old hotsy steam pressure washer pump to a single acting “serpollot type” three cylinder engine with copartmentalized “independantly acting pancake coil” multi tube boiler, on the math we have so far about 1 galon of water every 12 hours, 1/2 gallon of gasoline every 12-14 hours. at 200psi it makes 200flb torque, and it is drafted to run at 375 psi.

  9. Michael Klegin says:

    you do know you can just get a 2 stroke engine kit and easily convert it to either compressed air or steam power. 

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