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.

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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.

Step 3: Build the Wheels


3/4" Plywood.

Cut (2) 16" diameter circles out of plywood. I used some nice Baltic birch I found. I used my router to add the steampunk details. Drill holes for the flanges with the correct offset from the center as measured in the pedal shaft step. I used t-nuts to bolt the flanges on because I had them. I am sure other fastening methods would work. I also put black t-molding around the wheel. I got it from I borrowed a slitting saw blade to cut the groove. They sell router bits to do it too.

Update: I thought I would update this step with some recent ideas. Commenter golddigger1559 had a great idea for some simple but high quality wheels. Golddigger1559 took an old set of smallish bicycle wheels and cut out the spokes. Screw the rim to a piece of plywood inside rim. You get a very smooth running wheel without a lot of work.

Step 4: Build the Pedals


3/4" lumber

The pedals are made from 2 layers of 3/4" lumber. Make the grain go across the shaft to keep them from splitting. Bolt the two piece together and drill through 7/8" dia. I over drilled mine to fit some Teflon sheet inside as a bearing. Cut the pedals to fit the width of pipe in the pedal area. I made mine 4" front to back.

Step 5: Build the Handle


3/4" lumber.

Trace out a nice shape and cut it out. Hold the handle in front of you where you would feel comfortable riding and measure the angle to the middle of your feet. Epoxy a block to the handle with this angle cut to it. Drill a 1-1/8 hole in it to accept the handle post.

I spent a lot of time on the design and fab on this part. I made a printed a gauge dial and put it behind some Plexiglas and a brass bezel. I wrapped the grips with some leather lacing.

Step 6:


3/4" thick UHMWPE

I used (2) pieces of UHMWPE. I had the material left over from a table saw fixture I made. Other materials such as nylon might work as well. Bolt them together and drill a 7/8" hole for the pedal shaft and one 1-1/8 hole for the handle post. I made it so the parts would clamp to the post, but free spin on the pedal shaft.

This is the only non steampunk material I used. I'll pretend it is whale bone, elephant tusk or some other politically correct Victorian material.

Update: I bought the UHMWPE on sale at a woodworking show. You can also buy it a McMaster Carr. The size used here (4" x 3/4") is about $11 per linear foot. You only need about 4" of it. It is nice stuff to have around for projects. It is very tough and nearly frictionless against metal. It can be easily cut, drilled with woodworking tools.

Step 7: Build the Handle Post


1" copper pipe.
1/2 copper pipe
Misc fittings
Flux and Solder

Stand on the floor and hold the handle where you want it. Measure the length of 1" copper pipe that is needed and cut it to length. I added a kick stand type thing that holds up the handle when not riding. I made it out of a 1" x 1" x 1/2" tee, a male to female 45deg elbow and a piece of 1/2" copper pipe. I just measured the parts on the fly and brazed them in. Set the contact angle of the post forward of any reasonable angle that might occur while riding. I put a plastic chair leg tip on the end.

Step 8: Final Assembly

Bolt the wheels to the pedal shaft.

Screw the pedal halves together on the pedal shaft.

Bolt the post bearing to the shaft.

Install the handle onto the post.

Install the post onto the post bearing.

(Shown with it's baby brother...the Universe Cycle)

Step 9: Ride It...See a Video

It is not that difficult. I am pretty good with the Universe Cycle now, so that helps. The Legway is much harder to turn.

Practice along a railing or fence. Don't be afraid to eventually leave the support. It looks a lot harder than it is. You can't really turn very well. You can sometimes get one wheel to skid around with a little weight shift and hip twist. I have not ridden very much. I want to take some pictures with a real camera before it gets beat up. I will post more pictures and videos soon.

...before the comments come in...This was not meant to be a real effective means of transportation. This was more for the fun of the build and coolness factor.

See the video...

My 8 year old daughter shot the video. I did not know she was chasing me, so I stopped when I was getting too far away. We did this in one take...and it shows. That is not an intentional sound track. It was just playing in my garage.

Software Used in This Project

Pro/Engineer - 3D Solid Modeling

AutoCAD LT - 2D Drafting

Vectric Aspire 2.0 - CAM Software - (Awesome

Mach 3 - CAM Controller (..again

Corel Draw 10.0 - Graphics

Step 10: What's Next

Here is a very rough rendering of what I am working on.

This is a 2 person self balancing cycle. I have seen similar examples of this elsewhere, but mine is on a smaller scale. My goal is to make it very easy to make and cost less than $100.

It self balances because the weight is below the center of the axle. The pedals will connect to the wheels via chain. Each person controls one wheel. Pedal to together and you go straight. Go opposite and you spin in place, etc. I will probably make some form of disc brake for each wheel. Not shown are casters that will contact the ground to prevent rollover on sudden starts or stops. I am going to start at a scale for kids (about 5' tall max).

See the snapshot of the Sketchup drawing of the basic concept.

Here is a link to the Sketchup (Ver 7) file.

Update 5/3/09
Chip are flying. I cut one side, the seat bottom and the seat back. The size and fit of the seat was my biggest risk area. I used the Universe Cycle as a stand in for some pedals. The size looks good. It appears wider than I thought it would. To keep the costs down I am using BC exterior plywood. 3/4" for the sides and 1/2" for the seat.

I routed a lot of slots in the parts to give it a lighter look. It might save a little weight, but I think it will look a lot better. I designed some gears and a piston thing for the sides. See the new 3D view.

A lot of the mechanical parts are on order from Surplus Center. They should be here by Tuesday.

Update 5/5/09
Have the basic chassis cut. See the picture. Got the mechanical parts from surplus center. Added a picture of my shop.

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    146 Discussions


    1 year ago

    In the future, please just embedd the video. Having to DL the video to watch it outside of the 'ible was a little annoying.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I wholeheartedly agree. Not just annoying, but useless for those who discover they don't have a suitable program installed on their device to view the file after waiting for the download. It seems to be hosted on the Instructables site, surely they have a way to embed it so we can just click to view it. If not, it seems like EVERY other Instructable with videos just puts them on Youtube. That should be easy enough. I want to see how it goes, but not gonna bother installing software right now.


    1 year ago

    Buhahhahhah so good! It's like getting logs for x-mass!


    2 years ago

    I just plan love IT!


    4 years ago

    Is it difficult to build


    5 years ago on Step 3

    This is LEGWAY Self-balancing electric Unicycle


    5 years ago on Introduction

    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?


    6 years ago

    This is simply amazing. I am going to build this the ride all around town.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    if you put a brake o both wheels and the put an independent pedal on each wheels then you could turn it pretty easily.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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
    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    this sound interesting but I'm not sure i follow the concept completely can we talk about this through email