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Richter’s Rocket Bike: When a daredevil attached rockets to his bicycle, 1930s


In pre-war Germany in the 1930s, there was great interest in rocket-powered vehicles of all kinds; Cars, airplanes, boats, motorcycles, and skates (rollers and ice).

However, one of the strangest and least promising applications of rocket propulsion was to use one in a bicycle. In 1931, German engineer Herr Richter attached a rocket to his bicycle to create his Rocket-Bike.

With twelve black powder solid-fuel rockets attached to the rear of his bicycle and the battery hanging from the top tube acting as the ignition system, Richter closed the Avus race track in Berlin, which reportedly hit 55 mph. The top speed of the hour was reached. Lost control and was thrown from the bicycle. Miraculously, he was not seriously injured.

It is not known whether Herr Richter made another attempt with the Raketenrad (rocket cycle), but German applications of solid-fuel rockets are due to the promises made with liquid-fuel propulsion pioneered by Walter and von Braun in the 1930s. There has been a considerable decline. For the German Me-163 Komet, Walter RATO (Rocket-Assist Take-Off) units and the innovative V-2 ballistic missile.

Between World War I and II, especially in the 1930s, rocket enthusiasts and rocket clubs were active in Germany, the United States, Russia, and other countries.

Experimental rockets were designed, tested, and occasionally flown. Liquid fuel was used in some experiments, although solid fuel rockets were also developed.

In the latter, the fuel burned slowly (as was the case in early gunpowder rockets), and the entire fuel container was pressurized, which supplied hot gas directly to the de-Laval nozzle.

German engineer Herr Richter and his Raketenrad (Rocket Cycle) with 12 rockets mounted on the rear wheel, enabled the machine to reach speeds of 90 km/h before it exploded. Richter was thrown but there was no serious injury.

German engineer Richter with his assistant adjusting the rocket on his bicycle before a test drive.

German engineer Richter with his assistant adjusting the rocket on his bicycle before a test drive.

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