17 Examples of Pedal Power and Propulsion

white dwarf pedal blimp photo

If the bicycle is the most efficient means of transport ever devised, it's not surprising that humankind, the great toolmaker, has sought to leverage pedal power into other vehicles and apparatus. Here we look back over some of our past posts that've paid homage to the mighty cranking energy inherent in a bicycle.

(It's not a definitive listing, just a gathering of a few we've seen on TreeHugger. Feel free to leave links to any other pedal-powered projects in the comments box.) Enjoy.

The White Dwarf Blimp

Once a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) record holder for flying 93 km (58 miles), the White Dwarf (pictured above intro) returned to the skies after a 14 year absence, as the demonstration airship with a combination pedal power and gas engine propulsion. Initial trials had it flying at a cruising speed of 26 kph (15 mph), but the goal was get to 40 kph (25 mph). Unfortunately it seems the helium envelope ruptured during pressure tests in 2007, and the White Dwarf is no longer flying. ::White Dwarf

Bicycle Blimp

English Channel bicycle blimp photo

But that doesn't mean it's all over for pedal blimps. Late in 2008 Frenchman, Stephane Rousson, boarded a carbon fibre gondola slung beneath a16-metre-long helium-filled blimp, nicknamed 'Miss Louise' in an attempt to cross the English Channel. Unfortunately wind conspired to halt his pedal-powered journey 17 km (11 miles) shy of the 45 km (28 miles) total distance. It sounds like Stephane had been in the air for about seven hours before he yielded to the weather. Bicycle Blimp Channel Attempt

Gossamer Albatross

Gossamer Albatross photo

Stephane was inspired by the famous pedal-powered airborne crossing of the English Channel. Back in 1979, the late Paul McCready designed, 25kg, Gossamer Albatross was pedalled from shore to shining shore by Brian Allen, in just less than three hours. For their efforts they won the Kremer Prize from the Human Powered Aircraft Group of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
::Paul McCready Obituary

Sky Cycle Rollercoaster

pedal roller coaster photo

Well, roller coaster might be too grand a term. It doesn't have the usual Big Dipper type drops, but that's not say it won't bring on a few nerves. Riders, after all, pedal their little trolly cars around a track perched 16m (53 ft) above Washuzan Highland theme park. That's about equivalent to a four-storey building, but the spectacular view out to Japan's Seto Inland Sea looks like it further heightens the sense of exposure. ::Sky Cycle

Universal's Pedal Hovercraft

pedal power hovercraft photo

This is a Do-It-Yourself project kit. $29 USD worth of plans explain how to construct your pedal-powered hovercraft from bike parts, wood & tarp material. Apparently either model described in Universal's plans can be broken down for easy transportation. Empty they weigh 34 kg (75 lbs), but are said to be able to carry a payload of up to 136 kg (300 lbs). Ideal for school science or scout projects. ::Universal Hovercraft

More cool Pedal-Powered Apparatus on page 2!

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