Picture of The Sail Bike, a two person sailing bicycle
Hello Instuctables! 

This is the story of the Sail Bike, a tandem sailing bicycle. Built with limited resources and time, it actually worked pretty well, and gave me a few ideas on how to improve it next time. It was a lot of fun to sail, and also a lot of fun to bike. Got a lot of great feed back from interested people at burning man. Sailing it by myself at dusk across the open playa, was like being on a martian desert, and one of the most incredible experiences of my life. 

Note: I have included hotlinks to definitions to words the layman might not know, if you see a highlighted word/link.

What was the sail bike?
Two cheap beach cruisers bolted to a custom metal frame. Steering linked with ackerman steering
A rotating windsurfing mast mounted between them. A dinghy jib cut down and used as the loose footed roller furling main sail.

Why make the sail bike?
For years i had been to burning man and wanted to sail across the desert. As an avid sailor, the freedom and expansiveness of the playa as well as the constant wind made for great conditions. At one point last year i sat down and drew a sketchup of what i thought it might look like, and actually pretty much stuck with that vision. I had a much bigger much more time consuming project going this last year for the burn and built the sail bike as almost an after thought,  so i didn't put as much time or energy or resources as i would have liked, but it turned out pretty well regardless. I actually built a good percentage of the project actually on the playa in the dark with an angle grinder and a little 110 mig. 

How did it work? 
Pretty well!
My goals were to be able to sail on a broad reach, and bike anywhere I wanted, if it could go upwind that would be awesome, but I wasn't holding my breath. Mostly I was hoping for any sort of "sail assist". In the end, it would go to weather pretty well, could fly a "hull"  both upwind and down, and generally hauled ass. Flying a hull down wind was incredible, as i could go lower and faster, the more the apparent wind came forward.
With two people I had to reef the sail half way so my friends could keep up on regular bikes on a reach. I was very happy with the performance. The brakes built into the bikes, as well as just general boat handling kept it safe, and it actually felt very stable while flying a hull. If you're familiar with catamaran sailing then you know the feeling of playing the main and tiller to keep it flying.  I would absolutely build another and improve on this design, it was so much fun.

A note on Burning man regulations regarding sail craft.
Some people might be wondering about Burning man regulations regarding sail vehicles, and how mine fit in to those rules.  Lets just say that I saw and talked to hundreds of police and Black Rock Rangers and interested burners, and not a single person even hinted that they thought it might not be safe or allowed at the burn. I did my utmost to sail it safely, and took the responsibility of being an ambassador of sailing very seriously. I would love to see more sailing vehicles on the playa, and I think as long as they are piloted safely and responsibly it would be a match made in heaven. 

Ok on to the tech!

Nice instructable! I would suggest maybe adding some sort of counter-weight that swung opposite of the sail to help with leaning/tipping, just like what a moveable keel does on a sailboat.
Cleveland Motley (author)  digitalmouse1 year ago
Thank you, when riding with two people it stayed level, when riding with one, you could switch to the other side, but as i said in the Ible' i actually got better angles upwind and down on two wheels, while also reducing rolling resistance. plus less whwight is better no?
I think on regular land sailers permanently angled wheels are used? They generally use a trike set up as well. Idk I didn't experience any problems with the side loading, mostly I was worried about the head set loosening and the front wheel spinning, causing a pitchpole. The fiberglass mast was going to fail before the wheels too. I thought about angling the bikes out permanently but it would be uncomfortable to ride.
richbrutus1 year ago
Hey there, you might find this intresting aswell: http://www.whike.com, a recumbent bike with a sail.
Cleveland Motley (author)  richbrutus1 year ago
saw that pretty neat. actually spoke with a sail designer for that on sailing anarchy. seemed like a cool project that maybe slowed down?
WineRides1 year ago
How Small does it pack down? could you get the sailing equipment is a bike trailer? Basically, in energy terms, would the sail pay for its self? If i built one and brought it on a cycle touring holiday. Could I ride up long beaches, and then tow it when the beach ended? Or do you think it would be too much hassle?
Cleveland Motley (author)  WineRides1 year ago
too much hassle. Maybe a small sail just for one? I've seen that on you tube...
gpavlovsky1 year ago
Really amazing job! I've taken up kiteboarding recently and now quite interesting in everything about wind, including sailing. But for a person with no knowledge of sailing, your article isn't so easy to understand, that's a lot of terms I don't know what they mean. Not a criticism of your 'ible, just mentioning. Could you recommend some introductory read (website or downloadable book) to learn about basics re: sailing, where I could learn what all these terms really mean. I mean I can look up every one of them in Wikipedia, read, understand and forget. I want a comprehensive read that would explain what is what and how it is used.
Thanks :)
Cleveland Motley (author)  gpavlovsky1 year ago

this is what i learned with as a kid
dorybob1 year ago
great work and whole bunches of fun!
mpolicka1 year ago
I have that same bike!
rread1 year ago
That just looks pure fun. good work
Great idea. I might try a wheeled trimaran myself!? I have had lots of sailboats and am always messing with their rigging. Good job.
anode5051 year ago
Too cool
(though I'd rather have the I14 !! :) )
foobear1 year ago
zomg! vid plz
thats awesome!
tsmith1061 year ago
Holy crap! Amazing!
dedonde1 year ago
Hist: If your going to improve the design, Can it computerized to increase performance?
bob30301 year ago
Great job, I like your idea to maybe use recumbent bikes. The lower center of gravity and additional headroom would help. Thanks for sharing your talent and innovative spirit. I'd like to follow and see what you build in the future. Thanks for posting.
RADICAL!!!! This looks like it would be SUPER FUN out there. Come visit our awesome shop sometime along the Embarcadero, we love being friends with local authors :D