The Hudspith Steam Bicycle
October 28, 2011 4:24 AM   Subscribe

Do you like steam engines? Do you like bicycles? Then you'll love the Hudspith Steam Bicycle.

The second link reprises the first with an update detailing more recent modifications.
posted by SyntacticSugar (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
But it has no clockworks affixed to it! And the pilot isn't wearing goggles! And worst of all, it actually works!
posted by Scoo at 4:33 AM on October 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Check out the steam gramophone further down on the page. Boffinry above and beyond the call of duty.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:47 AM on October 28, 2011


I do like steam engines and I do like bicycles. But I like them for opposite reasons (mechanical ingenuity vs human power efficiency), so I don't like the combination as much as could be expected. Although I do like it.
posted by DU at 4:58 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to have some kind of electric (or otherwise) assist on a bicycle... but then I keep coming back to the fact that bicycles are beautiful because they don't need external power, period. In the city, I can generally get anywhere as fast as a car can. Yes, there's work involved, and sometimes it's hard work. But that's ok, because riding makes me stronger, and what was hard becomes easier.

That said, this machine is pretty awesome. (On preview, what DU said. That feels strange.)
posted by knave at 5:02 AM on October 28, 2011


Move over legs, bicycle has a new friend, steam!
posted by tommasz at 5:04 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, there's work involved, and sometimes it's hard work.

Steam engines are awesome, but for getting across town on my bicycle, i'll put my 1/4 horsepower up against this thing any day.

Of course the tire was flat this morning and it was raining so I rode the shank's pony.
posted by three blind mice at 5:07 AM on October 28, 2011


Earlier steam bicycles.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on October 28, 2011


Wildly impractical and wickedly dangerous.

I love it.


But, yeah the operator/pilot needs googles and more clockworks and perhaps a speaking bird perched upon his shoulder as his co-pilot (R2D2 like I suppose).

and rockets. Needs launchable rockets for protection from the inevitable ruffians on bmx bikes that will try and sabotage the steam-powered bicyclist.

posted by Skygazer at 6:31 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've often wished there were a way to make bicycling more dangerous.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:37 AM on October 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is there a tandem verison where the "stoker" is literally a stoker?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:42 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't this be technically a motorcycle?

Getting it started seems almost as fussy as my fiancee's Motobecane Mobylette. Although hers might just be an issue of old gaskets.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:52 AM on October 28, 2011


Do you like awesome? Do you like sauce? This is complete awesome-sauce!
posted by Fizz at 7:02 AM on October 28, 2011



Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to have some kind of electric (or otherwise) assist on a bicycle... but then I keep coming back to the fact that bicycles are beautiful because they don't need external power, period.


This attitude is not entirely useful. My post-doc adviser only lived 3 miles from work, but it was a long, steep, unrelenting climb. Many other bicyclists would shower after arriving at work, but he decided to get one of those electric assist bicycles. He rode to work for a while, but got continuous grief from other bicyclists: cursing, the finger, I believe the last straw was some body throwing something at him. So he left his bike languishing in the garage and drives his car to work every day. And gets no grief.
posted by 445supermag at 7:13 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know if it's a motorcycle since the engine is a retro-fit.
The frame's from a VĂ©loSolex, a cyclomoteur which seems a fairly broad category encompassing motorised bicycles and your girlfriend's Mobylette.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:16 AM on October 28, 2011


Unsurprisingly, electric-assist bikes are popular in the Netherlands. David Hembrow quotes a figure of 5000 sold in 2009; by way of comparison the total number of electric cars licensed in the UK is a fifth of that.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:21 AM on October 28, 2011


I used to have a job in a very, very poor part of town. So poor that the roads are basically empty because so few people have cars. I don't want to say "ghetto" but basically it was the ghetto. When I told my white yuppie friends where I worked, they'd visibly recoil and tell me I should get a job somewhere safer.

I was just out of school and didn't have a car myself, so I biked the 15 miles there every day on my nerdy road bike. And that's when I discovered that people -- tons of people -- have mountain bikes with gasoline assist engines. You buy a mountain bike from Target or Wal-Mart, and a little two-stroke lawnmower engine from a little local shop, plus some gearing to hook them together. The things were everywhere. Kids rode them to school, old ladies rode them to the grocery store, dudes rode them to work.

It's really a very practical form of transportation. You can buy one for 500 bucks, and fill it from a gas can you keep at home. There's no need for a license or insurance. They go on the sidewalk, through unpaved alleys, over empty lots. They can carry an extra person on the back. And if you run out of gas, you can just pedal.

I'd seen pictures of motor-assist bikes in Amsterdam and Beijing, and they seemed terribly exotic. But they're quite popular in the US too. Just not in the segment of the population that city planners and environmental activists and transportation engineers worry about.
posted by miyabo at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


He rode to work for a while, but got continuous grief from other bicyclists: cursing, the finger, I believe the last straw was some body throwing something at him. So he left his bike languishing in the garage and drives his car to work every day.

That's disgusting, and certainly not what I was getting at. Why would people act that way? I actually think it's neat to see all the different ways people get around. What I described above is basically how I think of bicycling for myself, not something I'd want to impose on everyone.
posted by knave at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


He rode to work for a while, but got continuous grief from other bicyclists: cursing, the finger, I believe the last straw was some body throwing something at him. So he left his bike languishing in the garage and drives his car to work every day.


As a cyclist, I have no problem someone riding with a traditional bicycle that has an electric motor added on to it. Frankly, that may be me, eventually. In Toronto, though, we now have people who, through a loophole in the law, ride (sometimes rather large) electric scooters in the bike lane. These typically have little vestigial pedals attached to the side like a seal's flippers, and though they are not necessarily faster than a bike (or at least faster than me) they are bigger and have more mass behind them. Furthermore, the people riding these have begun to adopt certain bad behaviors that are characteristic of some cyclists (running reds, riding on sidewalks). Of course, riding anything in Toronto is now a highly politicized and antagonistic act.

However, if I saw this guy in a bike lane on his steam-powered bike, I'd have only one thing to say: RESPECT!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:00 PM on October 28, 2011


This is pretty much the best thing ever.
posted by gamera at 6:09 PM on October 28, 2011


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