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HyperBike!
January 25, 2007 1:35 PM   Subscribe

HyperBike! Invented by Curtis DeForest, this sci fi-looking gizmo has its rider standing up between a pair of cambered eight-foot wheels and pedaling with both arms and legs. It can "easily" hit 50 mph and it much harder to tip over than a regular bike (and doesn't kill your sperm count, either). NASA is interested in it for low-gravity environments.
posted by gottabefunky (54 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
It looks cool, I guess, but the last thing I want to see are wide, fast contraptions further clogging up the bikepaths of Minneapolis.
posted by COBRA! at 1:56 PM on January 25, 2007


Very unlikely to be able to hit 50mph with a frontal area like that, and it looks like it's capitalising on the fallacy that you can get more power out of all your limbs than just your legs. I wonder what a real bike designer would say about it?

It also looks like one of several failed designs from the late 1800s. If you think you've invented something new in cycling, you probably haven't.
posted by scruss at 1:59 PM on January 25, 2007


Come to think of it, it does look rather reminiscent of a older "saftey" tricycle design propelled by hand cranks.

The massive frontal area does make me wonder about the claim that such a vehicle can get to 50 mph easily. Unless its in a vacuum, in which case, many hpvs can probably get higher speeds.

That, and there's no way that thing is going to get through the front door of my apartment.
posted by chibikeandy at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2007


the fallacy that you can get more power out of all your limbs than just your legs.

How's that fallacious?
posted by the cuban at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2007


Tiny picture of the historical version, 'cause as scruss said, it's all been done.
posted by fixedgear at 2:13 PM on January 25, 2007


Can it be ghost-ridden?
posted by First Post at 2:13 PM on January 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


rotate the human and do something, anything to reduce that gizmo's mass.

I bet it slices you up nicely in a crash.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2007


It can "easily" hit 50 mph: I can easily hit 50 on my bike too - going downhill. There is no way this bike can hit 50 on a flat. The power required is just a constant times the frontal area times the speed cubed. Given that this bike has about 3 times as much frontal area as a road bike, I'd say you could max it out around the low 30's. Now, if you have a fairing, you can reduce the constant in the front of the power equation, and hit 80 mph.

How's that fallacious?: Because for efforts over 30 seconds or so you're limited by your heart and lungs.

David Gordon Wilson's Bicycling Science is the best reference for this kind of stuff.
posted by noble_rot at 2:19 PM on January 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not very maneuverable. Looks like you steer like a wheelchair or bulldozer--moving one wheel more than the other. Imagine trying to dodge a suddenly open car door. Recumbent bikes solve the seat/center of gravity problems he talks about. Lots of wind resistance. How many of these can you put on top of a car?

How's that fallacious?
Just a guess, but by anchoring your arms on conventional handlebars you can push harder with your legs. All your limbs are being used on a conventional bike.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:21 PM on January 25, 2007


How's that fallacious?: Because for efforts over 30 seconds or so you're limited by your heart and lungs.

I'm sure you're right, but that's not a full explanation or my big-toe-powered bicycle would be a hit.
posted by grobstein at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2007


needs a batshitinsane tag.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:25 PM on January 25, 2007


It looks quite wrong and bad, but I am not a biking expert.

"How much money are you looking for?"
"A couple million dollars."


Ooh, that sounds really professional.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2007


I'm sure you're right, but that's not a full explanation or my big-toe-powered bicycle would be a hit.

Your big toe (or rather the muscles connected to it) is incapable of hitting the aerobic power limit of your body. However, your leg muscles certainly can.

You can spread the load by working both the arms and legs at the same time, but you can't sustain a harder work rate over any reasonable length of time: the power limit is set by the amount of blood you can pump per unit time and its oxygen carrying capacity, rather than the work rate that your muscles are capable of.
posted by pharm at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2007


I don't know about the gizmo, but just listening to this guy is annoying. "Breadbox"? "I see scrap metal"? Meh.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:58 PM on January 25, 2007


It's great that people are working on new designs and all, but there is something about this device that I suspect, were I to encounter one in the wild, would make me want to hurt the operator very badly.

I don't know why. Something about it's shape brings violent thoughts out of my head.
posted by quin at 3:06 PM on January 25, 2007


well, there ARE human powered vehicles that go over 50 mph. so this should be thought of as another design.

i agree about the frontal area, and bad aerodynamics. i dont understand why the rider isnt rotated to lay parallel to the road surface. seems obvious to me.

the riding position looks hella uncomfortable, but this seems more like the marketing is going towards an expensive and fancy "full body" workout device
posted by mano at 3:06 PM on January 25, 2007


It also looks difficult to pedal, especially at speed, considering each crank operates independently from the other. Just watching that guy ride it around the parking lot looked awkward enough. Independent cranks are used in training, to equalize the force applied by each leg, but I cannot imagine being stuck with that.
posted by luckypozzo at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2007


I'm not quite clear on how one steers it. The front wheel comes off the ground a lot, if that is what it is for. If it turns by rotating one of the big side wheels faster (or slower) than the other side, I don't see that either. Maybe I'm missing something.
posted by spock at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2007


I thought it looked silly when the site came up, but it's actually a pretty cool idea.

Nice post.
posted by squidfartz at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2007


I would never want to ride one of these, but it is beautiful.. it is the steampunk-est thing ever, and I want to see synchronized fleets of them, pedaled by flower-bedecked drag queens.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:17 PM on January 25, 2007


Mr. Garrison's segway
posted by joelf at 3:18 PM on January 25, 2007


Just get us cheap recumbents already.
posted by Tacodog at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2007


"So then, couldn't I just order one that works without going in and out of my ass and mouth?"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2007


Dammit, joelf.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:22 PM on January 25, 2007


So, the photos: are those image compression artifacts or bad photoshop jobs?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:27 PM on January 25, 2007


Since you are bringing more myoglobin into play would your maximum range be any longer if you use your arms and legs? Or would you just develop rhabdomyolysis more quickly?

I think this would be cool some place like Burning Man (surrounded by miles and miles of flat) but can't imaging trying to use this on a street, even if it corners like a rabbit.

On a related note, can anyone explain why drivers in their 50's, in red convertibles with the top down, account for about half of the "This is it, I'm going to die!" moments when I was trying to commute via bicycle? Is this some aspect of Lorentz forces that we didn't cover in physics, or what?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:27 PM on January 25, 2007


Sorry, off topic, but that's the worst web site design I've seen all week.
posted by BillsR100 at 3:32 PM on January 25, 2007


He lost me as soon as he started talking about how all bicyclists hate seats and spend all their time complaining about seats. I ride every day, and I only ever think of my seat if I go more than 50 miles or so. And by that time I've probably been thinking about my tired legs and feet, my hands, sunburn/cold toes, and hunger for a while.

He has a point, though - people who don't regularly ride bicycles complain about seats when they do ride, because they're not used to them. He sounds like a person who doesn't regularly ride bicycles. (Also, non-racers riding racing seats, like the ones he described in the interview, is not necessarily a great idea - the comfort/weight tradeoff probably isn't worth it if you don't need to go fast)

If his invention weren't so bizarre, huge, heavy, and doubtless ridiculously expensive, perhaps it could make bicycling available to more people.
posted by pinespree at 3:36 PM on January 25, 2007


spock writes "The front wheel comes off the ground a lot, if that is what it is for"

Yeah, it looks damn unstable, doesn't it? Maybe if they put the big wheels one in front of the other, eliminated the small wheel altogether, and relied on gyroscopic stabilization...

I'll believe 50 mph when I see it. And I won't see it. I can jog faster than that thing was moving in the video.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:36 PM on January 25, 2007


Here's an excellent instructional video that explains how to operate it.

(And, yeah: dammit, joelf!)
posted by LordSludge at 3:41 PM on January 25, 2007


i dont understand why the rider isnt rotated to lay parallel to the road surface.

That's not where the traffic comes from.

Mind you, he demonstrated it on the flat. Like to see it go uphill meself.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:49 PM on January 25, 2007


Check out this quote from the interview linked in the post:

“The HyperBike is not designed to make sharp turns,” said its inventor, “under normal circumstances, you shouldn’t have to. Any risk you might take as a cyclist would be lessened, in other words, you won’t fly off, and should someone hit you, you are protected by interior air bags.”

This is the second most stupid thing I've read today. He couldn't make it maneuverable, so he made it crash resistant? That's fucking reassuring.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:52 PM on January 25, 2007


Sorry, off topic, but that's the worst web site design I've seen all week.

Perhaps the TimeCube guy could help him out.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:02 PM on January 25, 2007


This is the second most stupid thing I've read today.

May we please see the first?
posted by william_boot at 4:05 PM on January 25, 2007


If you went down a hill real fast and hit the brakes you could deliver a baby.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:32 PM on January 25, 2007


"Just get us cheap recumbents already."

Indeed.
posted by -t at 4:47 PM on January 25, 2007


any explanations for why recumbents aren't in the Olympics? Is it just a regulations thing? Or do traditional bikes actually perform better?
posted by mhh5 at 5:55 PM on January 25, 2007


It's a big conspiracy. Seriously, it's regulations. Recumbents perform better. Wikipedia with its ten thousand documented faults actually has a pretty good article that captures all the major points.
posted by fixedgear at 6:17 PM on January 25, 2007


people who don't regularly ride bicycles complain about seats when they do ride, because they're not used to them

Until I switched to the BiSaddle, regular seats were somewhat painful for my nuts on long-distance rides, and I rode one every single day for 5 years until I switched. I have no relationship to BiSaddle, but it's been great for me. I can't ride no handed no more, but it's worth it.

This thing doesn't turn, and there's no way you could park it on a sidewalk ... so, what's the point again? Oh yeah, I can get a full-body workout in just 5 minutes a day!
posted by mrgrimm at 6:19 PM on January 25, 2007


...for efforts over 30 seconds or so you're limited by your heart and lungs

Hmmmm. I understand the point you're making, but I find that I can sustain a greater power output (in Watts) on the cross trainers or the rowing machines at the gym than on the bikes. I would admit that the power-meters on such equipment aren't exactly NIST certified, but I can sustain is at least 50% higher output on the rowing machine than on the bike. Do I have disproportionately weak quads?
posted by Enucleator at 7:08 PM on January 25, 2007


mrgrimm - why can't you ride no-handed on a BiSaddle?
posted by trigfunctions at 7:19 PM on January 25, 2007


Well I think it looks cool and don't care if it goes 50mph or not. I don't like bike seats and the idea of biking standing up sounds interesting.

That said it looks incredibly inconvenient for anyone who doesn't have a spacious garage and it doesn't have that lightness, airiness and flexibility that I associate with the grace of biking, being able to weave and turn, while feeling the air around oneself, unobstructed by metal rods etc.

The bisaddle looks practical.
posted by nickyskye at 8:24 PM on January 25, 2007


50 mph in that thing? Please.

Try over 80 mph in a properly designed bicycle.
posted by bigtex at 8:51 PM on January 25, 2007


May we please see the first?

"Poor Tom Friedman. He is looking for a Muslim Martin Luther King. There is none, Tom. If one were living on earth, they'd break his windows. Imprison him. Or kill him. Finished."
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:08 PM on January 25, 2007


This thing's gotta suck on singletrack. And so much for keeping it in the hallway. And do I have to wear a wetsuit when I ride the thing? Lycra shorts are about where I draw the line...

This is probably a great workout machine, but no way is it a contender for street transportation. Seriously, dude's gotta be on crack:

“Within the framework is a roll cage that could potentially withstand a 200 mph impact...
Great. Overengineer the thing. I really need to push all that extra weight around. "I see scrap metal" indeed...

And, unlike the Hyperbike, a seated cyclist is reduced to using only leg muscles for propulsion.
Not really. Your arms don't do work (in the Physics 101 sense) when you ride, but anybody who climbs hard out of the saddle knows the arms can supply a lot of force, allowing the rider to generate more climbing power than if gravity alone was pushing the pedals (yeah, pulling up on toe clips helps too, but nowhere near as much as most riders think.)

Dude's barely pedaling in the video; mostly he's moving his arms. That's using the wrong muscles for sustained effort (you can climb stairs all day if you pace yourself -- try that with pull-ups.) Unfortunately, the design seems to encourage this mode. And by cycling in that mode you're more or less limited to supplying force on the order of your body weight. He could easily overcome this limitation with a simple back rest -- you don't need to straddle it -- a lumbar pad would enable more pedal pressure and relieve a lot of the (non-propulsive, therefore wasted) effort the trunk muscles have to do in keeping him standing up.

If there was as much an advantage to moving the arms as this guy suggests, you'd expect to see competitive HPVs, especially multi-rider ones where the stoker doesn't have to steer, using both arm and leg cranks. Any HPV experts out there know if that's the case?

Argh. I could go on all day about this thing but I give up here. It's hard to reconcile his claim of being a "cyclist" for decades with the major misunderstandings of cycling dynamics this ride reflects. I don't know why, if dude just needs to raise money, he can't pitch the thing as an exercise machine instead of as revolutionary transportation. As it stands, I'd be less likely to advise a client to give him money, just because he comes across as a nut.
posted by Opposite George at 9:29 PM on January 25, 2007


capitalising on the fallacy that you can get more power out of all your limbs than just your legs

As indicated by others, this isn't a fallacy. There have been a number of Human Powered Vehicles that used hand cranks to augment foot cranks. Some of them were even Flying Human Powered Vehicles.

It works. You'll just hit maximum output early and run out of oxygen.

Also: This HyperBike link was in my bookmarks for posting. Nice taste. :)
posted by loquacious at 9:59 PM on January 25, 2007


If you want to use more muscles during biking one should of course go with a rowing bike.
I admire these inventors.
posted by jouke at 10:53 PM on January 25, 2007


Here's a (not very good) video of a bunch of rowing bikers during the european championships 2005. Looks like fun. Although I wonder wether you can turn easily.
posted by jouke at 10:58 PM on January 25, 2007


When I see somebody driving to work in a torpedo formed bike (very convenient in the netherlands when you don't like rain) the 8-year old inside me rejoices.
Realistically they're pretty heavy I guess.

(I miss the img tag )
posted by jouke at 11:05 PM on January 25, 2007


Bad site design, funky concept for a "bike" but it has been done to some degree or another. Would I play around on one for a little while? Sure. Would I drop $5800 (or whatever they'll cost)? Um, no.

No bike thread is complete without the conference bike.
posted by fenriq at 11:25 PM on January 25, 2007


His comment on the low center of gravity is absurd, since it is a result of building a higher, heavier machine.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:15 AM on January 26, 2007


If my arms aren't doing anything when I ride, how come I can accelerate so much faster riding handed than riding no-handed, climb hills so much faster, etc.?

It's not my no-handed riding skills: I can easily navigate curves no-handed, I routinely take 90 degree corners at 20 km/h no
handed, and I can, for example, take off a backpack, take off my jacket, put the jacket in the backpack, then put the backpack back on while riding no-handed.

Also after a very hard ride, I'm as likely to have sore arms as legs.

Particularly when riding with cleats, I think cycling uses arms quite a bit, at least when accelerating or climbing.
posted by lastobelus at 4:13 AM on January 26, 2007


lastobelus: You can ride faster/harder holding the bars because that increases your leverage—it gives you something to pedal against other than your body weight. But you probably know that.

I'll pile on the bandwagon and say there is no way this hyperbike gizmo could hit 50 mph, absent a steep hill. In fact, I doubt you could hit 20 mph on level ground, considering its lack of stability, awful aerodynamics, mechanical losses due to its complex drivetrain, and generally bad mojo.

None of the speed-record HPVs rely on anything other than leg power; presumably if there were an advantage, they'd do so.
posted by adamrice at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2007



Hmmmm. I understand the point you're making, but I find that I can sustain a greater power output (in Watts) on the cross trainers or the rowing machines at the gym than on the bikes.


Probably because 1) in order to fully utitilize your legs you need to have your foot securely attached to the pedal, i.e. with a clipless pedal system, and 2) your quads are probably overdeveloped - when you get maximum power out of your legs you are using your quads, hamstrings, glutes and abs in somewhat equal amounts - people used to using gym bikes will have much more developed quads in comparison and rely solely on the down stroke, putting power into the pedals for about 1/4 of the stroke.

any explanations for why recumbents aren't in the Olympics?

This doesn't explain why there aren't recumbent time trials, but the point of mass start cycling races is to leverage the aerodynamic gain of racing in a pack in a tactical manner. With recumbents, this advantage is severely reduced (and I believe with faired recumbents, pack riding is actually an aerodynamic disadvantage). In addition, one could imagine pack riding with recumbents being even more dangerous than bike racing already is -- see the Keirin. I believe there was a World Championship where only two cyclists made it across the line.

The time trial bit may just be because Olympic cycling is run (I think) by the UCI, who have no interest in promoting recumbents.
posted by noble_rot at 9:54 PM on January 26, 2007


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