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!

Step 1: Material List and Design Philosophy

2x beach cruiser (step through for easy access)
60'x 3/4" steel square tube
20'x 3/4" steel round tube

20'x 5/8" line for main sheet
20'x 1/4" line for down haul and traveler
jam cleat for down haul
corresponding misc blocks and cleats for main sheet and traveler

Wind surfing mast and universal mast step

old sail (i used the jib from an I14 and cut it down)

hose clamps for mast step and hardware for bolting cleats to frame
3/4" closed cell insulation foam strips for protecting the frame and reducing vibration.
optional piece of pvc for mast step
bolts and nylock nuts for steering arm

Ubolts for attaching the frame to the bike frames.

I chose to use traditional bicycles because I wanted to have the normal "bike" experience, in hindsight, a recumbent bike probably would have been a better choice as it would have lowered the center of gravity and gained clearance for the sail, but I think the recognition factor for normal bikes was little higher and more fun looking. I simply prefer to ride a normal bike as well.
Another reason i used normal bikes instead, was i wanted to try and reduce the material cost and welding time, by keeping the bikes intact and making the frame removable. Well, i ended up welding a relatively elaborate frame anyway, and while the bikes were indeed removable, i Think a custom recumbent frame would have been just as easy to do, Oh well you live and you learn!

So i went with 2x beach cruisers. I got them from target, they were about 100$ which is a little expensive, but they were nice, reliable, and it made it easier when both bike are identical.

The wind surfing mast was because I wanted the mast to rotate and the sail to furl. If i had used a fixed mast i would have had to have a jib or asymmetrical spinnaker rotating on a forestay like a traditional boat, but i thought that would put the center of effort too far forward and make it difficult to go upwind. So I opted for the main sail, and the rotating non-stayed mast. The windsurfing gear was the cheapest (free) and easiest solution I could find and ended up being pretty strong. 

On to construction!

<p>Nice Job, I'm Just starting a new project, similar to yours, Going for a recumbent style quad, with a captains chair in between the two bikes, Possibly use the inside pedals to crank, and Just build a seat mount, and steering linkage.</p><p>I like How you connected the steering, nice and easy.</p>
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.
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?
Hey there, you might find this intresting aswell: http://www.whike.com, a recumbent bike with a sail.
saw that pretty neat. actually spoke with a sail designer for that on sailing anarchy. seemed like a cool project that maybe slowed down?
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?
too much hassle. Maybe a small sail just for one? I've seen that on you tube...
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. <br>Thanks :)
http://www.amazon.com/Start-Sailing-Right-Derrick-Fries/dp/0865361444/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1384537431&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=start+sailing+right <br> <br>this is what i learned with as a kid
great work and whole bunches of fun!
I have that same bike!
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.
Too cool <br>(though I'd rather have the I14 !! :) )
zomg! vid plz
thats awesome! <br>
Holy crap! Amazing!
Hist: If your going to improve the design, Can it computerized to increase performance?
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

About This Instructable




More by Cleveland Motley:The Sail Bike, a two person sailing bicycle How to make the Bus Bike, a 9 person, 6 wheeled bicycle. A Swing Set that Generates Electricity 
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