Posts Tagged ‘biomimicry

11
Jan
10

We Need A Cannonball

As I’ve been thinking up new ways to spread the idea of a Biomimetic Bicycle it occurred to me that racing has been one of the biggest drivers of technology and design the world over.  Automobiles have benefited enormously from races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the multi-million dollar circus that is Formula One.  Some of the fruits of these racing efforts have been everything from windshield wipers, headlights, seat-belts, to aerodynamic everything, to KERS systems.  The engineering prowess of generations applied to the simple question of: How do we go faster?  Has changed the world…for cars.  Where do you think the buttons on your cars steering wheel came from?   Racing.

So why can’t the creativity and passion of engineers and cyclists be applied to racing?  Well, it has.  Bicycle manufacturers work non stop, year after year, to maximize the performance of their top-end bikes for top level racing.  However one of the hiccups in this process is that the rules that govern different racing categories limits the amount and kind of technology that finds it way into top tier road bicycles.  The UCI minimum weight limit is a prime example of this.  Some of the fastest, commercially available bicycles have been designed to get as close to the limit of what the rules for professional racing allow as opposed to what it would be possible to create.  Fine.  What I’m proposing is a race that would allow for a greater exploration of how technology can redefine the way we think about cycling and bicycles.

Solution:  The Cannonball Run!

Yes.  Only Burt Reynolds can help us solve the problems of global warming, traffic congestion, and of course producing the worlds first Biomimetic bicycle.  Coast to coast, as fast as you can.  Those are the rules.  Everything else is up to human power and technological creativity.  At this point you may be thinking: “Hey Aaron!  Don’t they already do the RAAM?”  And you would be right.  But the RAAM, while an amazing and under-appreciated test of human endurance, is simply not set up as a testing ground for new bicycle technology .  At least not to the extent I am imagining.  The current RAAM record was set by the incomparable Michael Secrest of Flint, MI.  He raced from Huntington Beach, CA to New York, NY in June of 1990 in 7 Days, 23 hours, and 16 minutes.   That is amazing.  I say we dedicate ourselves to the goal of cutting that time in half.

A Biomimetic bicycle should be able to do the Cannonball Run in 4 days or less.  It should be done in as few stops as possible.  The majority of the ride should be done under human power.  I think parameters would have to be set for KERS systems and Electric assist motors.  We want to push the technology but we don’t want it to turn into an electric motorcycle race.

I’m excited for 2010.  I think if we can continue to spread the word about the unparalleled promise of Biomimicry by stuffing that promise into a symbol to which people can relate than we can change the world.  I can’t think of a better symbol than the bicycle.  Let’s go Cannonballers!!

24
Oct
09

A Stunning Failure of Imagination

Ahhh…I love the smell of F1 Tech in the morning.  Unfortunately in the context of this blog the Beru Factor 001 is yet another example of the failure of imagination that now seems pervasive in the bicycling industry.

An impressive Failure

An impressive Failure

Allow me to clarify:  Are the designers and engineers of Beru Factor 001 dedicated, talented designers and craftsmen?  Absolutely.  Yes.  The Beru Factor 001 was designed specifically as a training bike for athletes as well as a display of the highest of the high-end Formula One technology.  Fair enough.  They gave themselves strict parameters and executed their goal.  The bike is stunning…as is the $27,500 price-tag.

I am bringing the Beru Factor 001 into this blog as yet another example of a missed opportunity.  At the end of the day this amazing bicycle is still the bicycle as we know it.  Derailleur, chain, two triangles.   Unacceptable.

Were this time, effort, design brilliance, technology, and money put into designing an F1 Tech, Biomimicry designed bicycle, how might the bicycling world react.  Beru had the people, the money, the resources, but not the imagination.  Thus, as beautiful as this bike is, I must chalk it up as an extraordinary  failure.

Well how could Biomimicry change the nature of the bicycle?  I’m glad you asked.  By looking to nature for design inspiration we could maximize the talent and resources of companies like the Beru .

The Cheetah is able to reach stunning speeds through the use of its spine as a massive spring that aids propulsion.  Could this be utilized to increase efficiency, influence design, or maximize any components of the bicycle?

Aerodynamics is an area in which nature has achieved some staggering results.  From the scalloped edges of humpback whale fins (already utilized to increase the efficiency of wind turbines) , to the rapid acceleration of the dragonfly.  Cycling could well leap into the evolutionary future by looking at what nature has already discovered (without the use of wind-tunnels).

Frame construction is yet another example of an area where nature has been making things lean and strong for millennia.  From bones to tree branches, bicycle frame construction alone could be massively advanced by synthesizing our ability to manipulate carbon fiber, and burgeoning field of nanotechnology, with what nature already knows about power to weight ratios.

I love the Beru Factor 001.  I love concept bikes in general.  What I detest is the lack of imagination,  availability, and affordability.  If it didn’t cost more than I make in a year I would probably try to buy one.  But the fact of the matter is that the boys at Beru missed a golden opportunity to rocket bicycles, Formula One, and Biomimicry into the mainstream.

Fear not…We here at Re-Inventing The Wheel will not make the same mistake.

20
Oct
09

I Thought The Future Was Now.

Boardman1

This absolutely mouth-watering, Chris Boardman designed bicycle is a prime example of my frustrations as I search for the perfect bicycle.  This bad-boy is loaded to the rafters with modern day tech.  It features: Integrated computer, a finger print identification locking device, a battery assisted motor that is charged through solar panels integrated into the bikes frame, spoke-less wheels that improve aerodynamic efficiency, and self-inflating puncture proof tires.  My god, let me have it!

Of course the unexpected but inevitable end of this story is thus:

“‘It could be built now if there was the will. All the technologies are already there, it’s just that nobody’s put them all together before.’  boardman said. he also added though that such a bike would not be financially feasible for mass   production for around another 20 years.”

20 Years!  This is spectacularly unacceptable.  This is a prime example of why I began this blog.  I believe that it is possible to build bike of this calibre and make them affordable.  I flatly refuse to accept that cost is what is keeping us from a brighter, cleaner, faster, two-wheel future.  The web is littered with amazing bikes like this while our streets continue to be littered with cars.

Solutions:

The purpose of this blog is not to lament the scarcity of bicycles like Boardman’s.  The purpose of this blog is to envision, create, and produce our own dream bicycle.   Action is our goal!

With that said I have been trying to envision a structure that can help guide us on our journey.  I do not want a lot of rules.  This is not a dictatorship.  Creativity, especially the creative endeavor of a group requires as much freedom to run wild as it does structure to achieve our ultimate goal of producing the bicycle of the future today.

As I have chosen Biomimicry as the most promising starting point for our design I thought a structure like Darwin’s evolutionary tree

Evolution is the name of our game.

Evolution is the name of our game.

would be ideal for creating, exploring, and eventually arriving at a design(s) that represents the highest aspirations, values, and ideals of the people who want to undertake this journey with me.  How will all this work?  I don’t know.  This will be a team effort.  I will not be throwing rules and regulations down from the mountain top…or in this case, my laptop.  We will develop this structure and our culling process together.  We will evolve our ideas together, and one day we will ride our bikes together.




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