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Bizarre Vintage Cycling Experiment: Meet Richter’s Rocket Bike

By Jiri Kaloc

While motor-propelled bicycles are nothing unusual these days, our predecessors had a bit more radical approach to the idea than just adding a small battery. Hence, meet the Raketenrad. An old-school steel frame, virtually non-existent brakes and twelve black powder solid fuel rockets. Herr Richter’s idea of a properly powered bicycle.

Of course it wasn’t designed for the German engineer’s daily commute, it was supposed to reach the highest speed possible. And on 24th March 1931, it reportedly did 55 miles per hour on the Avus race track in Berlin. For a very brief moment, we should say, as Richter lost control of the bike and was thrown down to the ground as a result. Luckily, he escaped unscathed and ended up in a track-side ditch. He then mustered up the courage to come back to the potentially explosive bike to check what was wrong, as you can see below.

Unfortunately, there are no records of what happened to the Raketenrad afterwards or if Herr Richter tried another ride. However, he definitely wasn’t the last one who tried to fit rockets to a bicycle. Just watch the insane ride from November 2014 done by Francois Gissy who set a world record of 207 miles per hour on a hydrogen peroxide fuelled rocket bike. He even raced against a Ferrari and won! And yes, we know, the Ferrari weighs a lot more than his bike. But as one of the YouTube commenters mentioned, if you consider the weight of Francois’ testicles, we reckon it’s almost even.