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Thys rowingbike

A rowed vehicle is propelled by a rowing motion. Steering, braking, and shifting, are usually done by the handlebars. Feet are on symmetrical foot rests, as opposed to rotating pedals. Unlike many rowing boats, the rider faces forward. Rowed vehicles exist in numerous designs, particularly with respect to frames and drive mechanisms. Commercial production numbers for rowed vehicles are small compared to that of standard bicycles.

Propulsion and steering[]

Some rowed vehicles use a stroke similar to a boat, in that force is used only when straightening the body, the drive portion of the stroke, not the recovery. Other rowed vehicles, mostly those that use linkages and crankshafts in their drive trains, use force in both straightening and bending the body. On most, the handlebars move; most also have moving footrests and some have a moving seat.

The handle bars on some rowed vehicles travel on a semicircular path due to the handlebars being mounted to a fixed length lever pinned to the frame. Some attempt to simulate the more level stroke used in rowing a boat, for example Streetrower and Vogabike. Streetrower has "the most natural rowing action of any rowing vehicle to date".[1]

The Street Rower uses a steering system actuated by servos and controlled by the rider with a joy stick.

Drive Train[]

Rowed vehicles generally have one of three drive trains: chain, linkages, or cable.

The Rowbike brand uses a standard bicycle chain, rear gears, and derailleur. The chain does not travel in a loop, as is the case with a standard bicycle. It moves back and forth over the rear cog in a reciprocating motion. The chain is connected at one end to the frame of the rowbike and to a bungee cord on the other. As the rower pulls back the chain engages the rear cog and the bungee cord is extended, and when the rower returns forward the bungee cord contracts, pulling the chain back and ensuring there is no slack in the chain. All Rowbikes have a rear derailleur, even single speeds, due to the need to keep proper tension in the chain.

Rowbikes that use linkages include Champiot and Powerpumper. They use linkages connected to a crank shaft, similar to a pedal car.

The Thys Rowingbike and Streetrower use a cable which coils and uncoils about a spool. Thys calls his version a snek drive.

Tandem, Three and Four wheeled variants[]

Balancing on a two wheeled rowed vehicle while rowing requires some practice, even for a skilled bicyclist. Tricycle and quadracycle forms are usually heavier but do not share this problem.[2] The Streetrower is a tricycle with two wheels at the front and one at the rear; the Vogatrike also has three wheels. An early quadracycle, the 'Irish Mail', was similar to railroad handcars used by railroad workers to inspect tracks. The four-wheeled Champiot is reminiscent of the 'Irish Mail' type machine in that it uses linkages, not a chain, in its drive train.

Thys has produced a tandem rowingbike.

See also[]

External links[]

Manufacturer's sites:


  1. Peter Eland, in Velovision magazine, September 2007.
  2. Irish Mails

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