A bicycle powered washing machine is an amazing design project to teach students about various aspects of engineering, and how to recycle old products to make something new and functional. There are of course pros and cons to building a pedal powered bicycle device, but the pros fully outweigh the cons in an academic environment.

School Design Project: Bicycle Powered Washing Machine

Recycled Products

There are numerous benefits to making a something like this bicycle powered. The ingenuity involved in making anything from recycled materials will show students that something that looks like trash may be able to be repurposed for another project. The use of recycled materials cuts down on the cost to make the project, and using recycled materials helps save the planet from more trash in our landfills.

Students will also feel accomplished once they complete the project. Most students may not know the feeling of designing something from scratch, and may have only bought pre-assembled products in their home lives. The physical exercise required to power the pedals on the bicycle will not hurt them either.

Possible downfalls

The primary downfalls are the size of the project, and the ease of current consumer products. The bicycle powered washing machine is large. It takes up the size of the inner drum of a washing machine, and the length of a bike. It needs room to be operated, and covers a much larger footprint than a traditional washer. The ease of use may also be a detriment. Some students may not understand why they are building a manually powered washing machine when they can turn a knob or push a button for convenient clothes washing.

Pedal power

By building a pedal powered machine students will learn several concepts. The primary concept that will be learned is team work. This is not a solo project, and several students working together to reach the same goal will simulate a team environment in the working world. The concept of teamwork is important to our student’s futures.

Team work

Conflict management is another concept students will master with the project. Students will have different ways to go about building the washing machine and they will have to work together to decide how to best go about it. Students will learn about the importance of conservation, and minor concepts of engineering, and application of force.

Materials needed

The materials required for the production of the bicycle powered washing machine must be gathered before the project can be started.

  • The two large items required are a bicycle and a washing machine.
  • You will also require numerous bolts
  • Metal braces
  • 2×4 wood
  • Rubber belts

The tools that are required are:

  • Welder
  • Wrenches
  • Pliers
  • A drill
  • Screwdrivers

Start the construction by taking apart the washing machine. Locate the relevant screws and remove the outer sheeting and frame from the washing machine. This will leave you with the inner drum and rotor. Remove the inner tube and tire from the rear wheel of the bike.

The next step in the construction would be to construct a frame using the metal braces your purchased. Set the bicycle, with the rear wheel attached, next to the rotor on the back of the machine. Measure the distance from the frame of the bicycle to the opposite side of the washing machine. Use a metal rod that fits this length, and either weld or bolt the brace to both the bike and the washing machine.

After you have the bicycle completely secured to the washing machine you need to build a brace for the front of the bike. Drill a hole through the front of the 2×4 wood, and bolt it to the front of the bicycle. This will give a more stable operating platform.

Take the rubber belt you purchased, and loop it around both the rotor and the rear wheel of the bicycle, this is how you will power the drum. Get on the bicycle, and make sure everything feels stable. If it does, operate the pedal to power the drum.

Your project is now complete. Make sure to review the concepts learned with your students, and congratulate them on a job well done. They have now constructed a manually operated washing machine that uses primarily recycled materials for construction.


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