Would you drive a beer powered motorcycle?
When it comes to invention and innovation, few names light up the room like Ky Michaelson, a Minnesota legend better known by his nickname, “the Rocketman.” With a lifetime of exploits in speed and engineering, from partnering with deaf stuntwoman Kitty O’Neil to setting over 70 state, national, and international speed records, Michaelson is a man who seems to never run out of fuel—both literally and metaphorically.
However, his latest project, a motorcycle powered by beer, adds another layer of allure to his already fascinating life story.
From Speed Records to Stuntman Collaborations
To begin appreciating the significance of the beer-powered motorcycle, it’s essential to dive into Michaelson’s career first. His roots in speed started with his partnership with Kitty O’Neil during the 1970s. O’Neil set the land speed record for the fastest woman on four wheels in 1976, reaching an eye-watering speed of 512 miles per hour. Michaelson’s reputation gained more traction after his work with O’Neil caught the attention of Hollywood stuntman Dar Robinson. Together, they worked on projects for movies like Logan’s Run, Airplane, the Police Academy series, and Lethal Weapon until Robinson’s untimely death in 1986.
Return to Rocket Roots
After Robinson’s death, Michaelson returned to Minnesota and went back to his first love: rockets. This man is not just about speed; he’s also about the extraordinary means to achieve it. He’s built a rocket-powered toilet and set a Guinness record with a rocket-powered snowmobile. Even his kitchen gadgets are high-speed, like a high-speed margarita maker with a weed-eater motor. Michaelson’s imagination knows no bounds, as he continually seeks to innovate and defy the norm.
Beer-Powered Motorcycle Innovation
Perhaps his most extraordinary creation is the beer-powered motorcycle. Designed alongside his son, Buddy, this unique machine swaps out the conventional gas engine for a 14-gallon keg. Yes, you read that correctly.
The motorcycle is fueled by beer heated to over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows it to generate enough steam power to propel the bike forward. Interestingly, Ky Michaelson is not a drinker, making the choice of beer as fuel even more fascinating.
His pragmatic viewpoint? “The price of gas is getting up there. I don’t drink, so I can’t think of anything better than to use it for fuel.”
The Science Behind the Suds
The beer in the 14-gallon keg is heated by a coil until it reaches a boiling point of 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it hits this temperature, the steam is forced out through a nozzle at the back of the bike, providing the thrust necessary for propulsion.
According to Michaelson’s calculations, the bike should be able to reach a top speed of about 150 miles per hour, although this hasn’t been tested yet.
Future of the Beer Powered Motorcycle
While the bike has already been showcased at local events and won awards, Michaelson aims to test its full capabilities at a drag strip soon. What’s more, the beer-cycle may eventually find its way into his in-house museum, alongside other fascinating inventions.
Interestingly, it doesn’t have to be beer fuel. Buddy, Michaelson’s son, stated that virtually any beverage could power the bike, opening the doors to further innovation. Could we see a coffee-powered or even Red Bull-powered version of the bike soon? Only time will tell.
So, the next time you pour yourself a cold beer, take a moment to think of Ky Michaelson, a man who saw a tankard not as a vessel for a drink, but as a fuel tank for uncharted possibilities. Cheers to that.