Rail Bike

 In Australia Rail Bike Adventure

I have had some very fun excursions on rail trails, disused railways turned into pedestrian/bike paths.  The trails typically go through very beautiful areas and rarely do you have to concern yourself with motorized traffic of any kind. 

Reader Will appears to be interested in rails as well, but he wants to ride on them – literally.  Check it out –


Will included the following text –

A rail-bike is a bicycle that has been modified to be able to ride on the rails of a railroad. The front wheel has a device attached to it so that the bike won’t steer off the rail while an outrigger is used to support the bike using the other rail.

I used conduit, cut up “razor” scooters parts, one bike fork two bits of steel and numerous nuts, bolts, washers and retaining pins.  Nothing is welded.  The hardest part is getting the spacing right so that friction and play are minimized.

A lot of person hours certainly went in to this working model and the details are pretty amazing.


New projects are sometimes learning experiences and Will also wrote –

Seems I became a bit to confident in my design, and while traveling at somewhere around 16 MPH I had a derailment.  The guide in the bike side caught a rail tie stopping the bike immediately, and as I was traveling over the bars, the frame bent behind the lugs at the head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket, so the fame is a total loss.


Ouch!  Will has noted that he will continue his pursuit of a safe rail bike and will keep us updated.  Additional photos and commentary of this project can be found on the Velospace.org Forum.

Posted by Matt at 01:01 AM in DIY, Modification, Repurpose | Permalink

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Bicycle Bill

That’s an interesting idea, but there are a couple of caveats. One is that unless you are riding on what you know to be a defunct rail line, you are always in danger of meeting an oncoming (or an overtaking) train. I don’t know how long it takes to remove a rail bike from the rails, but I guarantee you the engineer isn’t going to come to a complete stop and wait for you.

Secondly, riding on railroad property is definitely considered trespassing and you could end up being apprehended and cited, or even arrested and jailed.

Lastly, Panasonics were a beautiful example of the mid to late 1970s Japanese bikes that were responsible for a lot of people taking to the road during the “bike boom”. It’s a crying shame to see one come to such a tragic end.

Posted by: Bicycle Bill | 04/30/2012 at 05:11 AM


I have so been doing this in my head for years. Amazing to see it out in the world.

Next step: A side-by-side no-weld tandem!

Posted by: eric | 04/30/2012 at 03:08 PM

Scott Dedenbachh

It’s no more of a crying shame to see this Panasonic come to a tragic end than if it had been crashed any other way.
This is a great idea and a fun project. Rail bikes have been around for a long time and people have been having fun on them for a long time. Keep up the project and ride on. I find it amazing the Bicycle Bill gives a lesson on the challenges of rail bikes as if he is seeing them for the first time but then feels qualified to give us all a lesson on Panasonic frames as if we had never heard of them.

Posted by: Scott Dedenbachh | 05/01/2012 at 07:02 AM


Would love to see video of the bike in action (obviously before the crash).

would roller wheels have helped as inside rail guides vise the metal blade design?

Would a mountain bike be a better adept bike (shocks/wider tires etc…)?

I’m envisioning a lovely ride through the country side to ghost towns on now defunct rails to be a wonderful view.

Posted by: chattafuup | 05/01/2012 at 11:41 AM

Bicycle Bill

Actually, this is not the first time I had seen a rail-bike. The first one I saw, twenty or more years ago, was also home-built but used flanged wheels as the guides; since the wheels rode the top of the rails there was nothing underneath to snag a high tie or spikehead (the rubber bike tires still rode the top of the rails for traction and propulsion).

As for the Japanese bikes, not everyone *has* seen a good-quality Japanese bike like the Panasonic. Ever since the yen started fluctuating so wildly against the dollar in the late 1980s, most bikes coming into this country — even the quintessential Japanese bicycle brand, Fuji — originate in Taiwan or mainland China.

Posted by: Bicycle Bill | 05/01/2012 at 03:31 PM


Wasn’t there a Bicycling article about these hacks about 30 years ago? Maybe it was some other magazine? I share the sentiments about the Panasonic frame. Those were nice bikes, the shop I worked at in the 80s soled them.

Posted by: Tom | 05/01/2012 at 09:56 PM

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Posted by: oakley sunglass wholesale | 05/07/2012 at 09:54 PM


Rail bike idea was stolen from an old movie. It’s not cool to claim ideas that you didn’t invent. The design was much better in the movie anyway.

Posted by: SuperNiggler | 05/09/2012 at 11:29 PM


This is not an idea from any movie. The rail bike was a normal work tool used by rail maintenance service worldwide in the old days. You can see such bikes in many rail museums. This is a cool adaptation of the old concept of such technical vehicle made from a regular bike.

Posted by: Simon | 05/10/2012 at 10:12 AM


Being a railbiker I found lots of info at: Google “Bentley rail tours”

Posted by: NEPMTBA | 03/12/2013 at 04:33 PM


Chill…he never claimed to have invented it.

Posted by: Terrefirma | 02/04/2015 at 08:36 AM

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