Mobile Bicycle Powered Air Compressor




This eye catching addition to any bicycle allows the user to continuously compress air while riding. The power from the bike wheel is converted into air pressure by using an off-the-shelf car tire compressor and a fun amount of 3D printing and Laser Cutting. You ask, "Well dude, why would I want to compress air while I'm riding my bike?"

Here you go-

Applications of Having Compressed Air on a Bike:

-Storage in a tank for use inflating bike tires

-Running some sort of electric turbine(very inefficiently)

-Powering a misting system to keep you cool

-Pumping up a water gun

-Inflating party balloons while you ride your bike to a birthday party

-Blowing bubbles

-Running an air brush so that you can simultaneously paint and ride

The list goes on and on.

The project was completed in the University of Texas Maker Studio using the Makerbot 3D printers and the Full Spectrum Professional Laser Cutter.

Step 1: Air Compressor

This air compressor model and other similar ones can be purchased cheaply online. I ordered mine from Amazon for $15. The compressor comes out of the box with a plastic shroud, which you should remove. Once inside, the electric motor needs to be removed. A few simple screws and you should be down to the bare minimum air compressor; just a mechanical piston driven by a nylon gear(which used to be connected to the motor shaft)

Notice how the device was mounted on the inside of the shroud, because this will help you later when designing the new mount.

Step 2: Designing and Printing the Mechanism

There are many ways to design this section of the unit. I constructed the design by 3D printing a few parts designed in SolidWorks.

To connect the flywheel to the gear face I designed a small part that screws onto the gear face. I figured that this would be more reliable than trying to build a gear to mate to the existing one, and since I was impatient and cheap, I didn't want to order gears online. This solution ended up working out quite nicely. This part extends through the ball bearing and to the flywheel.

In order to connect the mounting brackets to the seat post we also need to print two pieces that can join those.

The flywheel was constructed with a combination of laser cut and 3D printed parts. If you don't have access to a laser cutter, you could definitely complete this with any other circular object such as the bottom of a bucket or a coffee tin lid. Basically the flywheel has to be both of a reasonable diameter for the area that you're working with behind the bike seat, and sturdy enough to undergo the damage of road wear. I used two laser cut circles(made from 1/4'' acrylic and connected them with 3D printed spacers. The flywheel was connected to the assembly with a 3D printed faceplate, but this could be easily done with the right hardware.

Step 3: Laser Cutting the Flywheel and Mounting Bracket

I used a Full Spectrum 20x12 Professional laser for this project. The same result can be accomplished with most other lasers. Cutting acrylic does produce harmful fumes so make sure that your filter device is operating when you do this.

I designed the laser cut pieces in a program called Inkscape. This is a design program that draws lines in vectors. This data type allows the laser cutters to follow the path of your designs instead of just the image, which is necessary for laser cutting. Inkscape can be downloaded at

The flywheel was an 8" diameter circle cut from 1/4" clear acrylic sheet as detailed in the previous step.

The mounting bracket is made from the same material. The bracket connects to the seat post. It extends out over the tire and gives the mechanism clearance to pivot. The rest of the mechanism pivots around a screw that stretches between the two acrylic sheets.

Step 4: Main Assembly

The whole thing was assembled using off the shelf hardware, mainly small nuts and bolts.

Assembly happens as follows:

1) The bearing is inserted into the throw arm and over the shaft of the gear face mount

2) The the long 1/4" bolt is inserted into the center of the assembly

3) The flywheel mating face is fit over the 1/4" bolt

4) The flywheel(assembled) is inserted on the same bolt

5) A lock washer and nut tighten the whole thing down(I found that lock washers were good to use with the acrylic as they sort of sink into the material)

6) The compressor mechanism is first bolted into place on the throw arm

7) The face of the compressor's gear is then connected to the gear face shaft with a few teenie weenie bolts

After all of the pieces were assembled the next thing to do was to mount it.

8) Run some 1/4" bolts through the mounting brackets and 3D printed post mount and secure.

I decided to have some fun with a Dremel cutting tool and cut down all of the protruding bolts so that the whole thing would be safer. Its also fun to make sparks cutting metal sometimes.

Step 5: Brake System Assembly

The whole mechanism moves up and down about the pin at the ends of the brackets. This is achieved with a spring and a cheap brake lever that I bought at a local bike shop, Clown Dog Bikes. The guys at the shop sold me a used handle and cut me the wire and housing that I needed. This helped me out a ton.

1) To make the whole thing springey, I put a bolt through from the mounting brackets to the throw arm. Then I put a little spring over that bolt. This makes it so the device returns to its home after each pull of the lever.

1) The handle/lever is mounted on my handlebar in a position that wouldn't get in the way of the brakes.

2) The wire is fed through the housing

3) The housing is brought back to the mounting bracket where it is mounted with a small 3D printed part(orange in the pictures)

4) The wire needs to be connected to the mechanism. I used an electrical terminal clip to connect the wire to the unit. A bolt needs to be placed in the back of the mechanism where the wire runs past. The little electrical clip then fits right onto that bolt and can be tightened down with a nut. This was a surprisingly secure and easy way to connect my bike wire.

5) The excess wire coming out the bottom is snipped off

Step 6: Add Tubing

I purchased some pressure tubing from a local hardware store that had the same inside diameter as the compressor output. I clipped off compressor nozzle head and then connected the tubes together with a little nylon fitting. Before inserting the fittings I heated up the tubes with a heat gun.

Now the compressor is connected to a longer hose that can reach anywhere on the bike, from the back to pump up a tank all the way to the front to fill up a handlebar mounted water gun:)

Step 7: Have Fun

Take your new air compressing bike for a spin!



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    26 Discussions


    10 months ago

    Very interesting


    1 year ago

    hi whats the model for the air compressor?


    2 years ago

    You should add tank for air and use it to pump wheel


    2 years ago



    Reply 3 years ago

    Maybe I could buy a little handheld one, drain it, and then hook up the tube to a drilled hole


    Reply 3 years ago

    People are installing large horns on their bikes for fun for decades. Truck horns, train horns (illegal most places). All they run on compressed air causing a lot of trouble when installing them on a bike. You have solved a great problem unwittingly.



    3 years ago on Introduction

    You could add an air tank and use it to power a big air horn. It would probably take all day to get enough air to use it though.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    So, I think this idea for blowing bubbles is GREAT! I want to try it for birthday parties! Just think: a grandmother on a bike blowing bubbles would entertain everyone!!!!

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Step 7

    Nice project - reminds me of an idea (or a combination of ideas) I keep coming back to; a triple-powered bike/trike...

    Basically, pedal-power, electric and compressed air...

    I was thinking the compressor could fill the bike's frametubes with air under pressure, that could be used to assist pedalling when the batteries have run down. Obviously, there'd be a lot of work to seal the tubes and connect them appropriately, so it might be easier to physically build the frame from pre-sealed and tested tubes - or something...

    Unfortunately I just don't have the time or resources to figure things out :(

    4 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, storing the air in the bike frame is a great idea! It seems like it would be simple to add a nozzle or two somewhere on the bike, and then we could eliminate most of the long hose for any attachments that you would want on the handlebars! Its just a matter of sealing off that tube though


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, sealing the tubes is my biggest concern - along with making sure they're up to whatever pressure I can get (though I think it's unlikely the compressor we're talking about could produce anything likely to burst a normal tube...).

    I think it's possible to buy pre-made carbon-fibre tubes, which could, in theory, be slipped inside steel tubes prior to actually building a frame - you'd just have to line stuff up so you could fit nozzles, etc. and make sure your welding wasn't going to damage them.

    It's all beyond my capabilities at the moment.

    George Rufatokarlpinturr

    Reply 3 years ago on Step 7

    Hey guys!

    I also have a similar idea running across my mind for some time!
    It would avail of the kinetics energy at downhills to run a mini compressor like that, and store the pressure at the frame tube. The sealing problem could be solved with one of those tubeless conversion kits <>
    The main use for me would be to power an air horn I've assembled myself <>

    Just4Fun Media

    3 years ago

    Very interesting build! How much PSI were you able to generate?

    Have a great day!

    1 reply
    bruhmanJust4Fun Media

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I haven't maxed out PSI yet. I think that the first limiting factor that I would run into would be not enough friction between the flywheel and bike wheel to drive the piston on each stroke. The cylinder has a pretty small volume though, so I predict that it would take quite a while for that to happen. One choice I had in this project was to use a small volume/high pressure compressor(like the one I used), or use a high volume/lower pressure compressor(like that for an air mattress). I figured that I'd be in no hurry to move high volumes, so I went with this one.


    3 years ago

    IMHO this is pretty useless
    I prefer buy a 2$ manual pump rather than all this work.
    P. S. you cannot inflate your tyre since when you pedal the tyre is spinning..