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For a long time I've wanted to rent a draisine and ride it down an old abandoned railway. There's dozens of places in Scandinavia where one can do so.

Draisine in Sweden
Source: Jonas Andréasson, Wikimedia Commons

Draisine in Norway
Source: Dresinsykling på Flekkefjordbanen

Alternately, is it feasible to adapt an ordinary bicycle as a draisine? Preferably in an easy way so I can ride to an abandoned railway, attach some stuff, and continue onto the railway.

Do any kits to easily convert a regular bicycle into a draisine exist?

  • I presume you mean this rather than this as the latter would just mean removing the pedals. Googling "rail bike" seems to give some DIY options. I read a mention just this morning, maybe here. – Chris H Feb 2 '17 at 15:11
  • @ChrisH I do, as should be clear from context on using it on an abandoned railway. The mention you read might have been on Outdoors.SE. – gerrit Feb 2 '17 at 15:24
  • It was (almost) clear from the first paragraph, explicitly so from the second. But the title could go either way. As ex railways often have the rails removed they would be nice flat trails for trying out unusual/vintage bike designs, so the other meaning wouldn't be completely absurd. You're right about the outdoors.se question – Chris H Feb 2 '17 at 15:33
  • I believe that I can answer your question, just give me some time to find some sources. – Ken Graham Feb 2 '17 at 16:12
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Yes a regular bicycle can be adapted as a draisine or a railbike as we call them (to use on abandoned railways with the tracks in place)?

California, USA is big into this sort of thing. There are more books on the subject than websites to be sure of.

Although there are so many styles of railbikes out there, it would be quite difficult to know what would fit your needs, but I am fairly confident this site will be able to help you: Bentley Railbike CONSTRUCTION PLANS.

I take it, that you are looking into something like this:

Bentley Railbike

They offer Bentley Railbike CONSTRUCTION PLANS for sale and they look like they are detachable, but you should confirm this with this company via email, writing or by phone to verify your needs.

CONSTRUCTION PLANS include 6 pages of text with detailed construction sequence and parts list keyed to the drawings, plus 10 sheets of drawings with most parts rendered full scale.

  • Easy construction - no welding or complex machining.

  • Adjustable outrigger wheel height.

  • Detach outrigger with 3 pins - folds after removal.

  • Wheel guide lift lever.

This is a proprietary design, and a patent shall be applied for in the near future.

A LICENSE (plans included) to construct a railbike in accordance with these plans may be purchased for $25 (US DOLLARS).

A Railbike - LIST of Parts and Materials can be seen here.

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    That front wheel steering mechanism looks absolutely terrifying. Its a big stabby spear aimed at the rider's chest. – Criggie Feb 3 '17 at 0:11
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    I think it's actually used to pull the steerer off the rail, and if so you could probably replace it with a rope. – Nuі Feb 4 '17 at 0:50
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Nobody has commented on the possibility of taking a normal bike with wheel rims without tires. This would need wide rims to fit around the top of the rail. This would involve a certain amount of wear of the rim though.

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    Welcome to the site! The fact that a wide rim profile allows one to put a bike onto a rail solves only one problem. It leaves other problems unanswered however: how to attach the third wheel sliding on another rail, where suspension comes from (as air in tires is gone), how efficient braking will be with metal-on-metal contact (rubber is gone) etc. – Grigory Rechistov Feb 9 at 14:55
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    Such a bike would be completely unrideable, since you'd be unable to steer for balance. – David Richerby Feb 9 at 15:14
  • @DavidRicherby Interesting thought - you could balance using body weight, but it would be an active input needing continuous work to maintain. Plus the consequences of falling on railway ties would mean more damage than an off-road fall. OP's original question definitely wants an outrigger wheel for balance and ease of riding on rails. – Criggie Feb 9 at 22:17
  • @GrigoryRechistov rails are quite smooth - a railway carriage or engine gets away with leaf springs. Modern rails are fusion welded to minimise the clack-clack between sections. So its possible the only suspension needed might be served by a padded saddle. Trains also run wheels without rubber, and while their braking is abysmal compared to any other transport (including aeroplanes!) its still sufficient given the rails are empty of all other traffic. – Criggie Feb 9 at 22:30
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    Rims are generally made of aluminum. That's not exactly the kind of material you want to roll your entire weight on. Especially when the aluminum is rather thin. The wear is like that of hammering on your rims three to four times per second with quite a heavy hammer. How many minutes do you think the rims will last? – cmaster Feb 9 at 22:55

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