Video: What happens if you put a giant propeller on your bike?

A gentle, nerdy video answering the question nobody was asking.

by Iain Treloar

photography by Fireball Tool


Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you’ve idly pondered how to fit an enormous propeller onto the back of a bike. How would you make it work? How fast could you go? Could you take flight? 

Finally, someone on YouTube has the answers.

The heroic tinkerer in question is the proprietor of the ‘Fireball Tool’ channel (733,000 subscribers – no biggy), and his journey begins with a stack of old magazines. In that stack is a February 1963 edition of Popular Mechanics. In that edition of Popular Mechanics is a brief news blurb on a London cyclist called Ernest Winter who fitted an “oversize propeller … geared to the regular bicycle pedals” that could push him around his neighbourhood “at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.” 

It was to be the trial for a self-propelled aircraft. I don’t think it worked out. 

No matter. Mr Fireball Tool has a 10 speed Schwinn Varsity sport from 1974, an enormous shed full of tools, and a mind geared to making silly dreams become silly realities. 

Charming, gentle and very nerdy, the resulting video is a little bit Mythbusters, a little bit DIY tutorial, and a pretty harmless way to spend half an hour of your life. I liked it. Maybe you will too. 

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