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Human Powered

Page created: 8th February 2011

This page is, for now, just a list of useful links to websites on various human powered vehicles and devices which I have collected over the years, plus some comments about the links.

Building a dynapod, or universal pedal operated drive for tools and devices, is something on my list of things to do. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to start on that project yet, so in the meantime I hope you will find some inspiration in these links. When I do make one, I will post some photos and comments here.

By the way, the image above (credit Bike-junkie at Flickr) shows part of a big bike move in Portland, and what can be done by human power. The antique cooker took 5 people to lift onto the trailer, and one to transport it.

Human Powered Generators

These generators are mostly driven by pedals, but the last one (two links for the same device) and a couple of the products are of a more unusual design.

Recumbent generator built from bike parts (probably defunct link) and with efficient disc generator - you have to scroll the page to get to it, it is not about the wind generator shown at the top of the page. Also, check out the less successful project mentioned at the top, to learn from his mistakes. It is worth checking the rest of the site which includes an electric bike conversion. However, the site may be down, and you have to access it via the internet archive page, which may have no images.

Great resource on human power generators, however, I have some misgivings about some of the other devices, which are powered by electricity, even if pedal generated. I would power them directly. Turning motive energy into electrical, then chemical, back to electrical and to motive is inefficient. Better to have a universal PTO machine.

Pedal Generator.Free plans may be available. Not tried.

A generator for powering gadgets

How to make a pedal generator

Using an old electric drill as hand crank generator

Circuitry for above


Pull-string generator. 5V portable, 12V semi-fixed not in production yet, but you can make your interest heard and be notified when available.

Generators and stands to convert a bike. Click on photo links, as one of the text links did not work. You may have to scroll down the pages, as the layout of the site is a little cock-eyed.

Pedal generators and basic permanent magnet DC generators

Article about above

Human-powered Devices

In the first group are specific pedal powered devices, permanently rigged up. In the second group you will find power-take-off devices, which have a permanent frame and drive set-up, usually with something like a chuck to hold and drive the axel of a selection of tools and devices.

Single-purpose devices


Clothes spinner

Pedal powered table and scroll saw

Another scroll saw

Water filter and transporter

Clockwork and wind-up gadgets Squidoo lens

Make a bike powered blender

Pedal powered food processor

Pedal powered grain mill

Several different pedal powered devices

Pedal powered chain saw

Image of wooden pedal machine

Multi-purpose "Dynapods" (stationary pedal-powered device)

Power station - generates electricity, spins clothes

Bike generator and tool driver

Pedal powered dynapod


Bike powered blender and cargo aids

Lehman, the well-known American outfitters who sell many simple and human powered products, including hand washers and wringers.

Water Buck Pump


Someone who does bike haulage to hire

Bike rack

Bamboo trailer with low hitch. Free plans. Could be adapted to non-bamboo.

Build a trailer on the cheap. Good detail on low-level hitch.

Cargo trailer with low centre of gravity and hitch

Sturdy bike trailer with low hitch. Instructions included (link to pdf).

DIY trailer with saddle post hitch

DIY cargo trailer made with wheelchair wheels for large items

DIY heavy-duty cargo trailer

Trailer hitch made from castors

No weld trailer hitch

No-weld trailer saddle post hitch

Easy trailer hitch - not recommended for heavy cargo.

Single wheel trailer

Hitch - requires welding, but strong

DIY cargo bike

Single-wheel trailer

Quick-release hitch made from hose - for light loads.

Trailer with low level hitch made from front fork of old bike

Combined cart and trailer

Trailer with low hitch

Trailer with low hitch

Hitch connector made with air hose coupling

A photo set at Flickr of haulage bikes and trikes

A heavy duty trailer

Box trailer with saddle post hitch

Trailer for large loads using wheelchair wheels

Low hitch trailer

Large, lidded box trailer

People and cargo trailers

No-weld trailer hitch

Single wheel trailer

Photo of unusual wooden cart in Pakistan


Trailers and trailer kit

Bike trailers, including speciality trailers (Canada)

Mobile Dwellings and Shelters

Brian Campbell's all-in-one bike home. What is amazing about this camper is that it is a bike, not a trike. Brian lives in this little home. Kudos!

More on Brian's home

Brian's latest home, a trailer

Various fabulous bikes, trikes, and pedal camper homes made by Pauly Wally the blogger. Check the archive. It is a treasure trove for inspiration for micro homes.

This is a trailer home which can be unhitched, made by Pauly Wally, above.

A collection of bike homes, including the two above

A 1940's youngster takes to the road in his camper bike trailer and earns money by selling post cards along the way.


A bike trailer-come-tent. Whilst on the road the sleeping quarters are folded down onto the trailer, making it more stream-lined. At rest, the tent can be unfolded on a platform above the trailer. The base stays dry, and no need to find a good spot to pitch the tent. Neat, and could be an inspiration for home-build.


Bikes, Trikes and Components

Great website for inspiration on all manner of bikes and trikes

Bamboo bike

Steampunk recumbent trike

Another steampunk trike


Article about shaft drive bikes

Distributor for shaft drive bikes. Does not appear to be available as transmission only for retro-fitting your own bike.

Puncture-proof, airless tyres

Flashing LEDs powered by dynamo

Magnetic pedal 'clips'

Pedal Powered Craft

Hybrid airship


DIY floating water bike

Rail-track cycling


Pedal boats

Pedal powered outboard "motor". The website is gone, maybe secondhand? The link is from the internet archive.

Classic German Trike

Assisted Bikes and Trikes, and Components

Conversion instructions

Solar assist trike

All about electric bikes and some products

Trike with leaning wooden frame


Electric bike businesses in the UK

Hub motor


Bikes of Beijing

A variety of interesting uses of pedal power

13 quadricycles, including arm-powered quad, pedalled pub, rail-rider and forklift.

Campaign for real events. Human etc. powered sound systems and more.

The brew cycle - a bit of fun

Sort of "human" powered. Solar powered "walking chariot" - this is fun too.

Steampunk segway

Pedal powered innovation. A links list.

A garden swing powered water pump


People who have travelled the globe under their own steam.

Steven Roberts, an adventurer who travelled far and wide with a recumbent bike, and later, boat - something for the high-tech geeks.

Jason Lewis - 13 year trip - 5 continents, two oceans and a sea - all by human power.

wiki of Jason

Jason's own website

Ffyona Campbell, first woman to walk around the world

Rosie Swale-Pope, a remarkable woman who, amongst many other things, ran around the world taking the longest land route - which took her through such inhospitable places as Central Asia, Alaska, Iceland and Greenland, solo, with little money, at the age of 57.


The Human-Powered Home: Choosing Muscles Over Motors, Tamara Dean, New Society Publishers, 2008
According to the amazon reviews this is the better of the two human powered device books. Can't comment, have not seen this book.

US link

UK link

Pedal Power: In Work, Leisure and Transportation, James C. McCullagh, Rodale Press, 1977
I own this book. It is OK for inspiration, but does not give detailed instructions for building any of the devices. It is also out of print and prices for second hand copies can fluctuate wildly. The higher prices are definitely not worth paying.

US link

UK link

At the end of the day, dynapods are built with a variety of things you may find - an old bike from a skip, a disused exercise bike or a wooden frame built from scratch. Each one will be different. The best you can do is look at as many examples as you can find to get inspiration for details, which you may have to adapt to the material you have.

Einfälle statt Abfälle - a fabulous series of booklets on making a variety of things, including several booklets on making haulage bikes, trikes, recumbents, tandems - you name it. The booklets are almost like a mini engineering course, and train your eye to see fabulous doo-das in a pile of scrap. I have learned tonnes from those booklets, and adapted a few designs, like a bike trailer. Alas, they are in German. If you know German, they are well worth getting. Christian Khutz, the author is my eco hero and tinkering guru.

Human Power Associations

International human powered vehicle association. Human powered vehicles for land, air, on and under water.

British Human Power Club

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