Little known steam bike

Posted by jerry on October 21st, 2007 — Posted in Motorcycling, Steam

In 1917 William Taylor built a steam motorbike based on an F-N. The bike used a two-cylinder double acting steam engine. But there is little other information on this bike.

Taylor steam bike
Taylor steam bike

But there may be some hints in that at one point in the 1890s William Taylor apparently worked with Wachs – a company that produced steam engines ranging from 1HP-50HP – mainly for the small engine market to power workshop tools and small generators. Such engines might well be ideal for adaptation to motorcycle use. The wachs engines were also double-acting and likely came in a twin cylinder model.

Wachs steam engine
Wachs steam engine

Taylor steam bike

Interestingly, the bike used shaft drive – so there would have been little to wear out.

If anyone has any more information on this unusual bike I’d love to hear from you



Comment by sue

I’ve often heard rumours of a steam driven Nimbus motorcycle (Danish) during ww11- will have to try and track something down on that.

Posted on December 11, 2007 at 8:39 am

Comment by jerry

The steam Nimbus features in Ken Follett’s novel Hornet Flight – so it might just have been a fictional one, but there were a number of steam bike conversions using small boat engines by enterprising home-builders, so it is possible that the fictional one was based on stories of a real one. It would be great to find out more 🙂

Posted on December 11, 2007 at 8:29 pm

Comment by Larry Stanley

The Nimbus motorcycles in Denmark were often converted to use producer gas with an on board generator during WWII. That may be what someone thought was a steam powered cycle.

Posted on April 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Comment by jerry

Thanks Larry – It’s true that many motorcycles (and cars) were converted to run on producer gas – but in this case the steam engine looks quite clearly to be a steam engine. But your comment is appreciated.

Posted on April 26, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Comment by Roberto

Hello, let me know if you know where to get a boiler that can supply an engine of that nature.
My name is Roberto and I’m from Argentina.


Posted on April 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Comment by jerry

Hi Roberto
Thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment

You could try

They make a range of steam engines, including for automotive use and a range of boilers to suit – I guess the key things are size and burner type. The one on the FN conversion looks to be about 12 inches (30cm) across and about the same height probably with a pressure kerosene burner. If you are trying a similar conversion you may want to consider one to run from a camping gas cylinder.

Good luck – and check out the steam power forums for advice along the way.


Posted on April 28, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Comment by rusnan

i enjoyed an old bycicle with “REX” machine . i ve been thingking abaut the
bycicle steam engine…
similar question with Mr Roberto. …
but do you thing can build it a simple mechanik? i wanna try .
i m from indonesia
{sorry my english} . Thangs

Posted on June 15, 2008 at 5:04 am

Comment by jerry

Thanks for your comment Rusnan. You could possibly try one of the simpler designs, using a commercial steam engine. You would be best to make some models first so you really know the principles of what you are dealing with. There are several amateurs who have made similar bikes, but it’s important to consider safety when dealing with pressure vessels like boilers – these should be made by a professional and hydraulically tested to way above your anticipated operating pressure. That said, if you are a mechanic, you probably have enough technical machining skill to make a simple bike engine. Look for the roper or hudspith or Roger Ulsky’s steam moped.

Posted on June 15, 2008 at 9:54 am

Comment by Chris

Hey Jerry,
I have been sitting on an old 1982 suzuki gs1000 frame. Needs brakes and all the electric gear… but it does have a shaft drive. I have been dreaming of a victorian style steam build but haven’t really figured out the mechanics completly. How large does the boiler have to be to create enough steam to push a larger bike?

Posted on July 1, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Comment by Pavel

if you are still interested about more informations there is article in English magazine !Model Engineer! Vol 1, no 7 published by Nexus. There are a article belong info from 1918. Lets see-some technical details and description of steam moto-cycle.
Regards Pavel

Posted on December 18, 2008 at 6:31 am

Comment by jerry

Thanks for this Pavel – any chance of a photocopy of the article or a list of the technical details?

Posted on December 18, 2008 at 8:08 am

Pingback by Mindsigh » Blog Archive » Steam bike update

[…] Back in October 2007 I wrote about a little-known steam motorcycle built in 1917 by William Taylor, based on an FN. Thanks to some detective work by one of my readers, an article turned up in Model Engineer Vol 1 no 7 about this very motorcycle, which provided some interesting technical details from someone who was evidently very familiar with the bike. […]

Posted on December 19, 2008 at 11:37 pm

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Posted on January 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

Comment by Thomas Morris

i am a motorcycle fan and i am a collector too. motorcycles are really beautiful and a great mode of transport.”,~

Posted on July 27, 2010 at 2:39 pm

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