Pedal vehicle for traversing abandoned monorailway

 Wp-Content Uploads 2008 02 Pentacycle

In 2002, Vincent Lamouroux built this Pentacycle to travel along the abandoned Aérotrain hovercraft monorailway built in the 1970s.

Link | Video about Aérotrain (Via VVORK)


  1. What an amazing idea with such a lame realization. 1) Those nerf ball tires will get you up to a max speed of about 4 mph. 2) The seat? I hope his chiropractor was along the route 3) It looks entirely to safe. Lose those two stabilizing wheels, jack up the center of gravity and set the pedals up backwards and we’ll talk.

  2. Thanks, John Weeks, I get it now. It’s about being disappointed by under-executed technology. Art, humph.

  3. @John Weeks: 19th century, but they would have had a 60 inch wheel. That looks to be about 12 inches.

    By my calculations, a good cyclist adept at high-cadence spinning should be able to achieve a cruising speed of not quite 4 miles per hour! Though with all those big balloon tires, probably only half that.

    Yes, I know it’s art, because the guy goes on about the the duality of the vehicle as object and conception, blah, blah, blah. I know I’m unfairly judging him by criteria he probably never aspired to, but as a cycle geek, riding that thing sounds unutterably tedious.

  4. The Aérotrain: A train with AFTERBURNERS. Sounds like very six-year-old’s dream come true.

    And I’m pretty sure that the Aérotrain could be written into an episode or two of Thomas. As a French villain, of course.

  5. Oh, ‘an aerotrain’. Oh, I say, we are grand, aren’t we? Oh, oh, no more buttered scones for me, mater. I’m off to play the grand piano. Pardon me while I ride my aerotrain.

  6. I positively assert that for functional art to be art it has to be functional. Go ahead, try to convince me otherwise.

  7. I’m so excited about seeing all the re-worked, more functional, faster versions of this. When should we expect them to be submitted to Mark for posting on BB?

  8. This reminds me of a railbike. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, you can modify a bike to ride on a traditional railroad track, using any bike that you happen to have, and some materials from your local hardware store.

    Of course, you life expectancy is much longer if you stick to unused railroad tracks.

    His bike looks cooler in that there is a better view many feet off of the ground.

  9. @14 – Right, because only authors are allowed to critique books, and only filmmakers are allowed to review movies.

  10. …because only authors are allowed to critique books, and only filmmakers are allowed to review movies.

    Just a little acid on my blade to counter the soporific on yours.

  11. #14
    I’m thinking something like a cross between a mechanic’s “creeper” and a recumbent bike (wheels go on the top rail).
    When do the time trials begin?

  12. I just wanted to point out that this work was actually a collaboration between the two artist Raphaël Zarka and Vincent Lamouroux. It’s just Vincent seems to forget Zarka a little bit nowadays.
    And just for the record I think that a lot what is nice about this project are the images of the two guys riding it and the little narrative these images put into play.
    The point of art, in my option, is to be a space free of the usual practicalities and rational train of thought that makes up most of the world that surround us.
    I know I’m being a little bit simplistic in this explanation, but I think it’s important not to judge everything by the same standards ie. judge art on the basis of engineering. Just as I would not like to see the merits of engineering judged basis of artistic quality.
    Art works like this are almost always more like prototypes that production ready devices – Build on very limited budgets, by no specialist, they focus on communicating some sort of an idea or image.
    So in the end I think this Pentacycle gives me a great feeling of possibility. Instead of looking at the abandoned test site as a site of failure or something like that. I get more of a positive utopian vibe – The world could be different, we could all be biking on top of monorail tracks. It opens up the possibility that we could misuses and misunderstand “failed” technologies in a positive way.

  13. “monorail, Monorail, MONOrail, MONORAIL!!!

    Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    What’d I say?


    Someone had to say it.

  14. @#14 – I don’t have an abandoned monorail track handy, so my own art bikes have different targets. Also, I’m more interested in building and riding them than documenting them, so it may be a while before they’re ready for posting anywhere, sorry. You’ll have to take my word for it that while they are of various unusual dimensions and drive-train configurations, they are also functional transportation. All of which is irrelevant to my ability to opine upon the art of others.

    By my sense of vehicular aesthetics, the judgment is clear: Anything with pedals should travel faster when you use them than when you walk behind it and push. This will not.

  15. Anything with pedals should travel faster when you use them than when you walk behind it and push.

    Think of it as a conceptual art piece.

  16. The intense desire to redesign is, I am sure, precisely the response desired given the theme of this art work. It certainly makes me wish I had an abandoned rail nearby.

  17. 4 years of art school and I gotta say that if the thing actually worked as a bike it would improve the Art.

    No point in doing less than kinetic, kinetic sculpture.

  18. I know I’m unfairly judging him by criteria he probably never aspired to, but as a cycle geek, riding that thing sounds unutterably tedious.

    Yeah, pretty tedious riding back and forth on an abandoned monorail track. Much less tedious to go fast in the bicycle commute lane along an exciting city street, huh?

    After the fall of civilization, I’ll be charging for rides on one of these over the ruins of Disneyland. Book your tickets now.

  19. Echoing the comments of the “form follows function” faction, let me direct you to this:

    Steven D. Williams actually built a bike-on-rails system to get him across a desert leg of his transect of Africa. He hadn’t planned for it in advance either. What he built was improvised in some Sudanese town on the edge of the desert.

    Art was the last thing on his mind.

  20. There were originally two Aerotrain tracks. I visited the other one in 1971 and it was already abandoned and overgrown. That one has since been demolished.

  21. Am I doing something wrong? I go to the site, find the pentacycle, click it, and it gives me one picture and some text…

  22. Even if I were on an abandoned railroad track, I would still be wary that a random abandoned train would be coming down it at me, and would generally avoid them. Pedaling down an abandoned monorail track in your experimental art piece is just begging for an experimental high-speed monorail being tested on an abandoned monorail track to smack you into oblivion. I’m just sayin’.

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