Railroad bicycle

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by s_beaudry, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. s_beaudry

    s_beaudry Member

    In the free time I have, I often wonder thru Ebay and Youtube just searching around and wasting time aimlessly...

    On Youtube, I happened across a few videos by chance of homebuilt railroad bicycles...


    Now this one seems to be quite well constructed, but a few tweaks to a run of the mill motorized bicycle could very well produce an effective way to travel (abandoned) railroad tracks!

    Now to talk about the railroad tracks, traveling on regularly traveled rails could be quite dangerous.... But I remember many years ago in the early days of the internet, circa 1996 maybe, coming across a database that had listings by state of all abandoned railroad tracks and thier starting and ending locations. I am researching now where this updated information would be available from.

    Kind of crazy, but it could be a nice ride to find an abandoned set of tracks and cruise them out (possibly) a 100 miles or so with no worries of other cars or such. And just think of that nice smooth ride.

    Any thoughts on the idea of modifying a MB and cruising an abandoned set of tracks?

  2. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    It has been done, at least a couple of different times. I saw a video a few years ago of a guy who took a recumbent, made a folding/telescopic two tube wishbone fram that clamped on the main tube of his bike at the front forks and just ahead of the rear wheel, had a flanged wheel he made from a large spoked pulley wheel at the apex of the triangle it formed. Bike wheels rode the middle of the left rail top, right side flanged wheel rode the top of the right rail. The recumbent was powered by either pedalling, or the friction drive rack mount weedwhacker engine above the rear wheel. He rode the bike to the tracks, pulled the telecoping tube frame out, unfolded it and clamped it to the bike frame, took the flanged wheel and slid it on the stub axle, tightened up a quick release fitting, set it all on the tracks and pedalled up to about 5 mph, dropped the roller on the rear tire and pop started the engine, went cruising away. He said in his commentary that on level track he could hit 35 mph.

    Another motorized bike I saw still pics of had a fixed frame on the left side like a sidecar frame, with a plywood flanged wheel for the rail, and was powered by an HT engine.

    If you'll give me a clear side profile pic of your bike, with frame ,measurements, I'll draw you up a dimensioned 3D model of a removable telescoping tube rail wheel support frame for it. Bet you could fab one up pretty quickly and cheaply.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2009
  3. Esteban

    Esteban Active Member

    I saw a plan like the " side-car " idea years ago, but it didn't go over well. The RR , at least back then , still had all right to their old tracks & it was trespassing to use those.
  4. s_beaudry

    s_beaudry Member


    It would be interesting to see that...

    What measurements do you need and I will reply back with them?

    South Carolina has some nice scenery, you never know where the abandoned tracks are!
  5. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    To do it accurately I'll need the full on side profile pics showing the bike frame clearly, plus tube diameters/lengths. If the frame includes curved members - say the bottom tube of the main "diamond", then give me center to center dims from the seat tube to the front riser tube every few inches up from the BB. Width of your pedal circle and distance the pedal crank arm and pedal itself project out to the side from the center of the BB would help as well.

    Basically, the folding/telescoping arms of the triangle need to clear the pedal swing cleanly. Designing the wheel mount is simple, as are the clamps to hold it in place. You want a guide wheel/flange combo that will ride the off rail cleanly, and the bike frame should lean toward it approx 5 degrees to keep your CoG actually between the rails. Of course, steering must be locked at centered as well.
  6. srdavo

    srdavo Active Member

  7. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    I love that extra seat "trainspotter" version of the 1895 cycle.
  8. RMWdave

    RMWdave Member

    ha pretty cool. 3 points
  9. az cra-z

    az cra-z Guest

    I read an article about rail biking across Australia. Sounded like a blast!! They showed some pages from an early 1900s Sears catalog, they sold rail bikes.
  10. sparky

    sparky Active Member

  11. machiasmort

    machiasmort Active Member

    Think pavement hurts? Try those sharp rocks!!!

    Can you say DERAIL? Ouch! I'll take my risks with the chink chain tensioners!

    If you could make something liteweight to skirt both sides of the track, that would be one thing.
  12. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Marty, gravel is gravel is gravel. Railroad bed, highway shoulder, back road - it's all pretty much the same stuff. That said, the guide rail wheel I envisage uses a 4 inch wide 8 inch rim diam trailer wheel from HF, with a disk flange both inboard and outboard, so the wheel is constrained to ride the rail top unless you lift it off the rail.

    Since your steering is locked on the bike proper to straight ahead, it is the guide wheel and frame on the off rail that keeps you on the track.