of scooters and mopeds…

and no, i’m not going to ask what the fork the state of South Carolina is doing letting drunks ride mopeds without a license. (really, though, what is the state doing letting drunks ride them without a license?) nor am i going to ask how all these things that are obviously not mopeds get classed as mopeds. though that’s a good question, too.

what i’m really on about is how much i like scooters, but will probably never own one. i love the classic Piaggio Vespa, but i’m nowhere near metro enough to ride one. i’m a scruffy bearded guy with a ponytail – no way i could successfully pull off owning a Vespa.

and the other scooters aren’t much better – they’re either too funky and retro (like the Honda Metropolitan) or too fancy and futuristic (like the Piaggio MP3). plus, i’ve got no real need or use for one – if it’s too far to walk, i’ll ride a bike. if it’s too far to bike, i’ll drive a car. and i’ll often use combinations of transportation modes.

but i still like scooters (and the classic moped). but nobody is cool on a moped.

until now.

a nut in England after my own heart has created the greatest moped ever: the Hudspith Steam Bicycle.

arc0373a.jpg

it’s an insanely awesome paraffin-fired steam engine moped.

you don’t get cooler than that. three forward gears and better than eight miles per hour…

i can see myself chuffing along King Street, accoutered in a flat cap and aviator’s goggles. only need to make sure it’s got at least a little spew of soot from somewhere, for the proper begrimed appearance.

what struck me as possibly even cooler would be a design based on an ordinary bicycle, using a Stirling cycle engine mounted inside the front wheel. since a Stirling engine is an external-combustion engine, a stationary heat source (or sources) could be mounted on the front forks with the engine’s pistons driving a crank mounted in the hub. you wouldn’t need to even have a freewheel rig for the pedals – just an engine clutch and a set of raised foot pegs. to stop or slow, declutch and brake until the pedals slow enough to plant one’s feet – adjustable heat output from the burners would regulate engine speed. to start, just clutch to the stopped engine and pedal until the engine takes over. then pop your feet up on the pegs and ride!

quote of the day:

“An invention with no philosophy behind it is a curse.” – Dr. Lloyd Steam, Steamboy

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