HyperBike: Hype or Hope?
Is your first instinct that this is not a means of transportation but an exercise device that will soon be relegated to the ranks of many other gut-busting fads? Then ask yourself this: what would the inventor of the horse saddle have thought about a bicycle? Drop your prejudices and hesitations for a second, and give Curtis DeForest some credit for thinking outside the box. DeForest recognizes that major drawbacks of the modern bicycle include the exposure of the rider to accidents and the limited speeds which the average cyclist can maintain. The conventional bike places the weight of the rider above the wheels' spinning axis, an inherently unstable situation (as any cyclist forced to stop fast well knows). Also, conventional bikes use only leg-power, carrying the upper torso as dead weight. And did someone mention saddle-sores? HyperBike solves all those problems. And there is more to come, as this creative inventor's vision will get a boost from the NASA funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program in the development of the next model.The inventor describes it as "crawling at 50 mph" and compares the experience to swimming. And at least one person who has given it a go reflects on the fact that one has to learn the motions--a bit like a bird has to learn to fly. NASA's interest in the design may stem from the advantages this contraption could have for use in low gravity environments due to its stability and the balance of weight relative to spinning forces.
The wheels are 64 inches apart at the road and cant inwards to only 26 inches apart at the top of their 8-foot diameter, inspired by the stability and speed of racing wheelchairs. The prototype weighs in at about 200 pounds, as you might expect by looking at it, but engineering with carbon fiber or aircraft aluminum could help it shed a lot of pounds. Some degree of ability to collapse the bike is foreseen, a necessity if the average person wants to find a spot to store this beast, which is probably too tall even for the SUV-designed garage. And flywheels or turbines paired with the brakes are envisioned to help regulate speed and accumulate energy for that extra boost when starting uphill.
The primary market targeted by DeForest is the X-generation sports crowd looking for the next physical high. I know I am looking forward to making the first coast-to-coast crossing in the tandem HyperBike--when can I get one?