Steampunk Segway ( Legway )

FeaturedContest Winner
Picture of Steampunk Segway ( Legway )
A self balancing, human powered, steampunk styled, Segway. All you need is a brave self balancing human. This is the ultimate green vehicle for all you eco conscious steampunkers. Is that an oxymoron? I made this out of mostly found materials. This was my first steampunk styled build. Any good suggestions on making it look better will be incorporated as long as the materials are cheap and easy to find. I have been calling it the Legway in reference to the propulsion method. Yes, I know about those Lego self balancers of the same name.

This Instructable covers a basic version of this. For details on how I got my steampunk look go to

Anyway this is my entry to the Epilog Laser Engraver Challenge. Vote for me and I will share it with local Chicago makers, builders and hackers.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1:

Step 2: Build Pedal Shafts


(2) Galvanized 1/2" pipe flanges
(2) 1/2" black pipe pieces 8" long
(4) 1/2" black pipe elbows
(2) 1/2" x 3.5" pipe for the offset pieces
(1) 1/2" x 3.5" pipe for the center section.

Build this first to get all the measurements needed for the other parts. Put all the part together as shown in the picture. Tighten them very tight, but make sure everything is squared up and the bolt patterns of the flanges are square. I primarily used black pipe parts because I found some around. To prevent the parts from loosening later, I tack welded them, but I am sure epoxy or JB Weld would do. Measure the offset the pedal shafts have from the center. This will be used for the bolt patterns on the wheels later. Measure the width of the clear areas of the pipes in the pedal area for the widths of the pedals.
Toga_Dan1 month ago

This is hilarious. Love it. re: steering, I know this would quadruple the complexity, but what if there were a clutch in each wheel so it could freewheel?

jordanguy1238 months ago
This is simply amazing. I am going to build this the ride all around town.
vpurcell1 year ago
Still one of my FAVORITEST Steampunk items out there! LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!
ace12345m1 year ago
if you put a brake o both wheels and the put an independent pedal on each wheels then you could turn it pretty easily.
eyebot1174 years ago
I did it! I figured it out! I know how to make a legway that steers! Has anyone ever seen the transmission on a riding lawnmower? It has a large wheel, and a smaller wheel that touches perpandicular to it. The closer the wheel is to the larger wheel's center, that faster it spins. The closer it is to the edge, the slower it spins. Using this technology on both wheels, you can easily and smoothly steer by changing gears-without changing gears! I think they're called "brushwheels"... I saw this in 507 Mechanical Movements (pg. 12, fig. 28)... Anyway, the power comes from the pedal shaft (the S-shaped shaft with the pedals-yes, that thing). On the ends of the shaft there are sprockets. A bike chain (same length for both sides) connects the pedal shaft to a gear box. The gear box (with a spring tension chain machanism-found on the back wheel of a bike-allows the chain to become larger/smaller) connects the chain to bevel gears, and upwards to the fly wheel. This touches the "big wheel" on the inside of the bicycle wheel. What moves the gearbox up and down is a pull spring (down), and a wire that attatches to the handle bars (on each side). When the bars turn......right, the right end lowers, and the left end raises. So do the gearboxes below. The fly wheels are below the axes on the larger wheels, so moving up, makes the larger wheels spin faster (lower gear), and vice-versa. This is reversed on the other side, thus allowing the legway to steer. Here's a model (SketchUp) on the transmission. The wheel on the bottom is the large wheel, while the two wheels on top of it are the fly wheels. The leftmost flywheel will spin slower, but spin the large wheel faster. The rightmost flywheel will spin faster, but will spin the larger wheel slower...

Brush wheels.png
One more thing- I know this IS a lot, but anyway...To anyone trying to build off of these comments I've made, note that to steer while coasting (if you use brush wheel steering), you'll need to connect both sides of the leg way (both chains) with a shaft. This is because without it, you only have control while accelerating. When coasting however, the wheels may slow down or speed up-whatever, they aren't connected by the pedal shaft. If they're connected by another shaft (that will spin while the pedals are coasting), both sides will still be connected, and will still spin in their respective gears, allowing you to steer. I'm not certain if this is correct, but I pretty sure another shaft is neccesary.
ilpug eyebot1172 years ago
this looks too complex.
this sound interesting but I'm not sure i follow the concept completely can we talk about this through email
an easier way to turn is to shift your weight.if it dosent work than im sorry.
ilpug2 years ago
you really need to make some kind of turning device. i might make one of these... it looks really fun. i will put bigger wheels on mine though, with air tires.
Mikeymo4 years ago
"..Turn it..?", you folks are missing the point of steampunk..... lol Its awesome, I love it!
What is the point of steampunk? Real question, not trying to be rude.
My definition: Take an object from our everyday lives, and redesign/build it out of commonly obtained objects. The item being "steampunked" will resemble the original and may be functional to a degree, it usually does not operate with near the sophistication of the original.

Hope that helps,
That is a better description than I have received in the past. Thank you.
I just searched it on wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually the Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.
jbussé Mikeymo2 years ago
doesn't it also have to look very old as if it was made 250 years ago before electricity was invented, and everything worked on steam. (even if your steampunked item secretly has a battery in it ;-D )
Mikeymo jbussé2 years ago
That certainly explains the "steam" in steampunked : ) Thanks
Steampunk is victorian aged future vision. Just think Of Abraham Lincolns' era and futurize it with only the materials of that day. It is more an art style. People definately make functioning items entirely with tech from victorian age, but most are a look of that era, but taking into account what they would imagine the future to hold.

I have a suggestion for replacing the UHMWPE. If you can get your hands on an old wooden plane (woodworking, not aeronautical), the block could be cut and drilled to make the bearing.
A plane with missing or broken blade or wedge would be ideal, cuz it would be way cheaper and you probably don't want to cut up a functional old wooden plane, on account of their coolness
vacanebuna3 years ago
I believe that cornering could be much more improved by adding a clutch to each wheel.
666man84 years ago
where's step 1?
I think he accedentally added that step and didn't notice it.
olphart4 years ago
I LOVE it!!  Gotta build one!  Now that is the soul of wit:  simple and speaks volumes
GianniMora4 years ago


gemgh4 years ago
You guys are awesome.  But honestly you give my hubby too much food for thought.  Gotta love your work though!
thing 24 years ago
Nice instructable! two phumbs up! (thumbs up) THUMBS are still up! You should try to make a self propelled cart sometime.
jaythedogg4 years ago
Wow, I thought you were going to lean a little more forward & catch the stationary "kickstand" on the ground resulting in a DIY face plant tutorial. :P Just messing. Nice design man! Congrats on an awesome project!
bdring (author)  jaythedogg4 years ago
hey nice pic., bye,gogar
LOL, that's rly me too. :P The eyes are fake tho.
snowpenguin4 years ago
I think I've solved the steering problem... Make it into a steampunk trike! That really takes away from the 'Segway' part, but, oh well... Basically just a Universe cycle with another wheel that has the handlebars and is steerable on the front!
bdring (author) 4 years ago
Chips are flying on the Steamroller. Here is my son verifying the size of the seat. See step 10 for details and more pictures.
That picture is totally awesome.
bdring (author)  daniel_reetz4 years ago
Thanks, The thing was fully functional over the weekend. I striped it down for cleanup and finishing. Instructable coming soon. All the kids in on the block rode it. Most of them figured it out right away. It takes a little coordination between drivers to go straight, but they all got the hang of it. When you get stuck on a bump, etc, you pedal and your feet almost point to the sky before you generate enough weight shift to roll over it. Lots of fun if you are not prone to motion sickness. We are working on a name. I started with Steamroller, but the kids are pushing for "Wheels of Down", "The Wheel Thing" or "Portable Porch Swing"
bdring (author)  bdring4 years ago
It is done...

The SteamRoller
manantais4 years ago
Great ideas,keep them comeing
leepinlarr4 years ago
you do some sweet wood work, hope you are passing some skills off to the kids my son started using my power tools and welder at age 12, it really helped him grow look forward to this next project !
eyebot1174 years ago
Cool idea. Here's what I would do- I would find a pair of bicycle wheels to use instead of the original small wooden wheels. The bicycle wheels have rubber tires that would give you more traction than the stained wood would. The original unit would hang in a frame that hangs on the larger bycicle wheels. The ends of the pedal unit would connect to gear sets (each end would) and a chain would connect to the gears to the bicycle wheels. The gear shifting unit would be on the handle, like on a normal bicycle. To steer, either you could switch one wheel to a higher/lower gear (you would need two gear controls then), or have one control for both wheels, and have two brakes on each wheel. As you tilt the steering column, turn the steering wheel, turn the handle bars, pull the brakes on one side, that wheel will slow down...but so will the other. At this moment, I am developing my own personal version of this vehicle. My goal is to make it as much like a bicycle as possible (imagine being able to steer, brake, change gears, and coast on this thing!). I am using Google SketchUp (check out my group), and I will eventually post a model in this forum! (I also like feedback as well)
The biggest obstacle would be steering. The reason why is because both wheels are rigidly connected to an axle, and what is done to one wheel, is done to the other wheel. That's why you'll probably only really need a brake on one wheel to stop. But if they hang in a frame in the bicycle wheels, it might not be so hard to figure out...
I did a little thinking, and steering is going to be very difficult to acheive with this sort of project. I found that the only way to steer without losing speed would be to find a way to tilt the top of one wheel toward, or away from the steering post, or to change the wheel on one side to a higher or lower gear than the wheel from the other side, thus resulting in one wheel turning faster than its twin. Since tilting one wheel, decreases its vertical height, unlevels the axel, and tilts the other wheel, there is no steering curve. The only way to prevent this is to make the wheel that tilts increase in diameter to keep its vertical height the same as it tilts (yeah, right). Having gear sets for each wheel may be more trouble than it's worth as well. I do not know of a way to shift gears simply and smoothly by tilting handle bars or turning a wheel yet... Braking on one wheel would work, but the steering would be very sensitive, and when steering and coasting, speed would be lost... The easiest way to build this (and have it work) would be to use motors, gears, and batteries. More voltage to one motor causes one wheel to cover more distance than the other wheel, and the motorized legway (now a segway) curves toward the more powerful motor. Both wheels would have gear sets that are identical, and that are controlled in sync.
bdring (author) 4 years ago
I cut the wheels for the "Steamroller". Here is a picture of one. I need to mount tires next

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!