Richter Raketenrad “the Rocket man”

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I was recently climbing the Burwood Hill on the Eastlink Trail.  The climb is about 300 metres in length with an average gradient of 6%.  I was absolutely fanging it & flying up that hill sitting on a little over 35kmph.  My legs were on fire and my lungs were bursting and I was wondering how much longer I could keep that pace up for.  I was in disbelief as a rider glided past me on my right side.  I was flying and my first thought was I was getting taken, yet I noticed the guy wasn’t even pedalling & there wasn’t a bead of sweat on his head.  He must have been doing well over 40kmph & you could hear the humming of a motor powering his bike.  Not happy Jan!

Some people will go to extreme measures for some gain and it made me wonder how long people have been looking for that extra oomph.  I began to do some research and learned that this sort of thing has been going on for a long time.  I discovered a gent by the name of Richter Raketenrad.  We’ve all thought of ways of tinkering with our bikes to get that little extra performance out.  Richter had a serious need for speed and went above and beyond to get that extra Strava juice.


24th March 1931: German engineer Richter and his Raketenrad (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

So in 1931, German engineer Richter Raketenrad toyed with the idea of a super powered bicycle and added not one or two but twelve rockets (yes, explosive devises) to the rear end of his bike and called his device the “Raketenrad.” A white box was attached to the frame which contained the battery used to ignite the rockets which used solid fuel (which could blow up).  You’d hope that that steel frame between the rockets & Richter was pretty strong…….

Today the thought of attaching explosive devises to the back of your bike may seem a tad bit dangerous, and you’d probably want to make sure your will & testament were filled out before you try this.  Apparently rocket propulsion was all the rage in Germany back in the 1930’s. People actually attached rockets, which as mentioned may be considered slightly dangerous, to skates (both roller and ice), cars, boats and bicycles.

March 23, 1931 German engineer Herr Richter and his Raketenrad Image: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Well as the story goes “don’t try this at home fellas!  I’m a trained professional!”.  Richter tested his rocket bike at the Avus racetrack in Berlin.  The rockets ignited and he went flying at incredible speeds and reportedly managed to reach a speed of close to 100kmph.  You could imagine the adrenaline rush that this would have given Richter.  The world would have been flying by at a million miles an hour and Richter was living the dream.

That was until he lost control and was thrown off as his precious rockets exploded (see images below).

Except for his pride, thankfully Richter wasn’t too seriously injured

Your mother always said you’ll have days like these Image: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

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Author:  Aaron Cripps



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