At a time when more firms than ever are creating high-tech gadgets that promise to revolutionise motorcycling, it is perhaps refreshing to recall more antiquated biking technologies.
Take the ‘Roper Steam Velocipede’ for example, a motorcycle powered entirely by steam. The original form of this machine is said to have been built in 1869 by Sylvester H. Roper of Massachusetts, USA.
The bike and its owner became famous in the 1870s after it appeared at numerous fairs and circuses across America. While the steam-powered motorbike never became a commercially viable product, it is nothing if not an environmentally-friendly mode of transport – impressive credentials by today’s standards.
A Russian YouTuber recently uploaded a video of himself riding what appears to be a surviving example of the Roper - or at least a very convincing copy.
The steam powered bike features a piece of technology that is still found in today's motorcycles – a twisting throttle grip. It also has a very hot-looking stem exhaust – a hazard Mr Roper was no doubt acutely aware of.
The bike features a hand-operated water pump beside the boiler housing, together with oscillating steam cylinders which pivot on either side of the machine’s frame.
The cylinder’s piston valves are worked by eccentrics beside their cranks, while the feed-water pump is operated by the left-cylinder tank.
Substantial tubing at the chimney base develops exhaust steam, which delivers the forced draft.
You can watch this amazing machine in action by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAoCwwkSU-I