Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that combines technology and aesthetic elements of the 19th century with science fiction motifs of the era. Steampunk motorcycles are a unique and creative expression of this genre, blending the classic design of vintage motorcycles with the intricate details and machinery of steam-powered technology.
No two steampunk motorcycles are alike, and each one is a work of art offering a fun and stylish way to get around. They are often handmade by individual builders who have a unique flair, using the mechanical components and aesthetics of steampunk to inspire ideas.
While each steampunk motorcycle is unique, it still features some common elements inspired by the steampunk motif. Gears are a common sight on steampunk motorcycles, and they can be used for both decorative and functional purposes. Brass is another popular material for steampunk motorcycles, and it is often used for things like handlebars, rims, and spokes. Leather is also a common material on steampunk motorcycles, and it is often used for seats, saddlebags, and other parts. Wood is sometimes used on steampunk motorcycles, and it can be used to create a more rustic or vintage look. Other industrial elements that can be found on steampunk motorcycles include steam boilers, cogs, pistons, mechanical carburetors, etc. Some steampunk motorcycles also feature steam-powered engines, while others are powered by gasoline or electric motors.
Here are our recommendations for some unique steampunk motorcycle builders.
Steampunk Motorcycles by Michael Cole
Michael Cole aka “Copper Mike,” as he is known in riding circles is a Hawley-based artist and motorcycle builder who specializes in creating steampunk motorcycles. His motorcycles are known for their intricate detail, craftsmanship, and use of recycled materials. Copper Mike’s motorcycles are not just works of art, they are also functional machines. They have been featured in exhibitions and events around the world, and they have even been ridden in motorcycle rallies.
One of Copper Mike’s most famous motorcycles is the “Steampunk”. In this creation, he uses a 1973 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead that features a rebuilt engine with engraved heads and 10:1 compression. He also re-purposed numerous antique gauges and parts and rebuilt them into functional pieces. He built a hand clutch with an old Harley mouse trap. The motorcycle is created from equal parts copper and brass. The floorboards come from old fire extinguishers and the air cleaner is a brass box with a welded–in trumpet horn. The headlight and taillight are sourced from a submarine. He also fabricated an analog GPS retooled from a dash-mounted compass. The saddlebag is sourced from a leather Russian ammunition bag.
If you are looking for a unique and stylish steampunk motorcycle, then a Copper Mike steampunk motorcycle is a great option. His motorcycles are sure to turn heads and make a statement. If you are interested in learning more about Copper Mike’s steampunk motorcycles, you can visit his website or follow him on social media.
Steampunk Motorcycles – The Hubbard Steam Cycle
The Hubbard Steam Cycle is a one-of-a-kind motorcycle that was built by Arthur “Bud” Hubbard in the early 1970s. It is a steam-powered motorcycle that is based on a design from the April 1918 issue of The Model Engineer and Electrician magazine.
The Hubbard Steam Cycle has a two-cylinder, 6 cubic inch single-acting engine that uses a direct chain drive. The engine is mounted in a 1956 Maico frame. The motorcycle is said to be able to reach speeds of up to 40 mph and has a range of about 2 hours on one tank of water. The Hubbard Steam Cycle is a unique and rare motorcycle that is a testament to Bud Hubbard’s engineering skills and creativity. It is a true work of steampunk art that is sure to turn heads wherever it goes.
Here are some other interesting facts about the Hubbard Steam Cycle:
- It is one of only a handful of steam-powered motorcycles that have ever been built.
- It is powered by a steam engine that is made entirely from scratch.
- It is said to be very fuel-efficient, using only about 1 gallon of gasoline per hour.
- It is a very loud motorcycle, with the sound of the steam engine being described as “a cross between a steam locomotive and a chainsaw.”
- It is not street-legal, but it has been featured in a number of exhibitions and events.
The Hubbard Steam Cycle is a truly unique and one-of-a-kind motorcycle. It is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Bud Hubbard, and it is a reminder of the possibilities of steam power.
If you are interested in learning more about the Hubbard Steam Cycle, you can visit the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association website. This particular steam-cycle is being restored by Jim Anderson of CAMA, the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association.
The Whirlygig: A Steampunk Motorcycle by Tom Sepe
The Whirlygig is a one-of-a-kind, fully functional electric motorcycle that was built by artist Tom Sepe in 2007. It is a unique blend of old and new technology, with a steam boiler on the back and an electric motor in the front.
The frame is a 1967 Tote-Gote, which was one of the first off-road motorcycles. The “pancake style” electric motor is a 15hp Etek, a wave wound axial air gap brushed DC motor. It uses one-tenth the steel and one-half the copper as a conventional DC motor and is only half the size. This motor is a standard in electric motorcycle racing and in certain configurations can reach speeds in excess of 60mph. Two 12Volt deep-cycle marine batteries wired in series provide the 24Volt power, which is managed by an ALLTRAX AXE 500amp controller, some 24V solenoids, and a gaggle of knobs and switches that have to be triggered in the right sequence to prevent unwanted borrowing.
The Whirlygig is also equipped with a number of other features that give it a steampunk aesthetic, such as brass accents, gears, and a leather saddle. This steampunk motorcycle is a work of art and a testament to Tom Sepe’s creativity and engineering skills and has been featured in a number of exhibitions and events. Here are some other interesting facts about The Whirlygig:
- It is the only known steam-powered electric motorcycle in the world.
- It took Tom Sepe two years to build the Whirlygig.
- The Whirlygig has a top speed of 45 mph.
- It has a range of about 50 miles on a single charge.
- The Whirlygig is not street-legal, but it can be ridden on private property.
The Aerium: A Steampunk Motorcycle Built on Compressed Air
The Aerium is a steampunk motorcycle that was built by Swedish custom motorcycle builder Peter Forsberg. It is powered by compressed air instead of gasoline, and it is a unique blend of old and new technology. Peter Forsberg spent 3 years building this motorcycle.
The most eye-catching part of the motorcycle is the engine and drive train, with most of the mechanical components visible. The cylinders are clear glass tubes with custom pistons, seals, valves, and push rods. The crank mechanism is from an old Harley and is mounted inside a piece of stainless steel pipe. Because it runs on compressed air it cools down instead of heating up, so an oil system is not needed.
The engine is fed from an external air tank the rider has to wear on his or her back, which Peter admits is hard to carry. He has plans to build a sidecar to house a much larger tank to extend the range and improve riding comfort.
This motorcycle may not be much for comfort or long-distance travel, but the amount of creativity and resourcefulness required to make it functional at all is the mark of a true mechanical genius.
Check out this motorcycle in action here.