Art without engineering is dreaming;
Engineering without art is calculating.

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE

Super Bike – Sun Tabloid

I always got a kick out of making it into the tabloids – fortunately, I’ve never been enough in the public eye for it to be a real problem, and a little breathless truth-stretching is an amusing break from the more staid technical media. This one did pretty well, though… other than claiming I built a computer at the age of 13. I was into electronics then (ham radio and speech synthesis), but computers remained a fantasy in my life until 9 years later.

Sun (British Tabloid) – May 29, 1990
this might be a US or Australian edition (note ¢ sign on logo)

Click to embiggen… the photos are pretty good.

WHEN A COMPUTER wizard pedals his unique bike down the street, people take notice. That’s because the contraption is a 220-pound high-tech mechanism that only slightly resembles a bicycle.

Steve Roberts spent a lot of time and money creating the super bike that he’s taken on a pair of 10,000-mile trips around the United States.

Steve’s “Winnebiko” features five working computers, a speech synthesizer, a ham radio, a satellite data link, a television, twin air horns, an electronic compass, alarm system, CB radio, stereo system, cassette deck for dictation and digital shortwave receiver.

The state of the art equipment is powered by a pair of solar panels mounted on the bike. The long-distance cyclist hails from Columbus, Ohio, where at the age of 13 he built his own computer. [NOTE: I actually grew up in Louisville, Kentucky]

By the time he was 21, Steve ran his own computer consulting firm. But the whiz kid simply got sick of the business world and chucked it for life on the open road.

Steve pays for his long journies by writing magazine articles that record his adventures. Between his 10,000-mile jaunts, the hard-core cyclist cooled his heels long enough to write a book, Computing Across America: The Bicycle Odyssey of a High-Tech Nomad.

Prior to his second trip, Steve installed a small keyboard so he could jot down events as they happened.

That journey took him down the West Coast, through the Rocky Mountains, across the Great Lakes area, through the New England states and then down the East Coast.

With an average cruising speed of 15 mph, Steve pedaled close to 65 miles a day.

Even though the bike has 36 gears, it’s no simple task to operate. Steve relies on old-fashioned leg power to maneuver his weighty Winnebiko over all types of terrain.