Thursday, January 22, 2015

Steam Powered Motorcycle

A passing discussion of the 1894 Roper Motorbike with a friend sent me down a steam bike rat hole this week. Just looking at a steam powered motorcycle it's clear risk was not much of a consideration. Open fire and a potential boiler explosion right between you legs? Who cares how much peril your 200+ HP your Hayabusa can put you in.

I can't fathom how Flathead Rob has not built one of these yet.

This Pete's Garage video of a 1896 Roper replica show something Rob would absolutely build if time and money (AKA going to work) was no object. An original is pictured below.

I didn't however realize the Roper was also publicly involved in the first documented motorcycle fatality.

Sylvester Roper routinely rode his creation around Boston. On June 1, 1896, he demonstrated it on the Charles River Park board-track velodrome in Cambridge. He averaged nearly 30 m.p.h. for two laps, outrunning the fastest bicycle riders. Later the track was cleared, and the 72-year-old Roper attempted to go even faster.  Spectators reported seeing a strange pallor in the face of the aged rider before he appeared to lose control of the machine. Roper was found dead after the crash, collapsed in the sand next to the track. An autopsy reportedly revealed that he had died from heart failure.

I can think of only one other person that has the same level of affinity for hopelessly antiquated vehicles as Rob, my son Vaughn.

When shown the photo above of the 1867 Roper Steam Velocipede Vaughn's only comment was "COOOL!" Sometimes I think that kid was delivered to the wrong house.

1 comment:

Flathead45 said...

It is pretty manly, but I would have to have asbestos underwear...
No, I think I'll hold out for a locomotive.