The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 227: Transformers

Premier Date: February 7, 2015

This myths in this episode were related to vehicle transformations, but not to the Transformers media franchise.

It is possible to convert a car into a working motorcycle using only hand tools. (Based on a claim that someone did this after his car broke down in the deserts of Morocco.)


Adam and Jamie found a 1967 Citro├źn 2CV to match the car in the story. They drove it to a landfill and were able to quickly strip it down to its wheels and undercarriage because of its simple design and construction. To create a motorcycle, they re-mounted one wheel directly touching the engine’s output shaft and attached the second wheel on the center line at the other end. They also hooked up rudimentary steering and suspension systems and a hand-operated throttle.

In preliminary tests, Jamie drove while Adam jogged alongside to shift gears and apply the brakes. They were not able to travel far due to difficult steering and poor weight distribution. Deciding that their design was not be successful, they studied photographs of the actual purported design used by the man in the story and set out to replicate it.

They updated the motorcycle by incorporating a tiller for steering and by turning the engine around for better balance; however, this configuration only allowed the use of reverse gear to move forward. The vehicle was taken to a runway for testing. Both Adam and Jamie found that the reverse gear ran so slowly that the motorcycle could barely stay upright, and they could not drive more than 150 feet (46 m) before tipping over, even on the perfectly flat runway. They deemed the myth busted and commented on the difficulty and danger of driving the vehicle.

A bicycle can be modified to operate on both land and water. (Based on photographs that allegedly show a person riding such a craft.)


After examining the photographs, Adam replicated the craft exactly. He attached paddles to the rear wheel of a bicycle and built retractable outriggers to hold eight empty water-cooler jugs as pontoons. At a swimming pool, he was able to successfully propel and to steer the bike on the water, but a sudden flip left him unable to right himself.

Jamie then built an improved version of the bicycle with more paddles on the rear wheel, an electric crankshaft to adjust the height of the pontoons, and telescoping steel pontoons designed to reduce resistance and improve stability. He and Adam then held a race on a lake, starting from the shore. Although Adam was able to get into the water more quickly, Jamie easily caught up on his more efficient bike and won handily. The myth was confirmed because the original design worked as depicted, even if it wasn’t particularly fast.