As another example of how important aerodynamics are to energy-efficient transport, what is expected to become the new "fastest bicycle in the world" looks like an oddly shaped pharmaceutical pill more than a bicycle (in my humble opinion).
The Arion1 Velocipede, pictured above and below, was designed by University of Liverpool students for the 2015 World Human Powered Speed Challenge. It will supposedly be able to hit 90 MPH(!) powered by nothing but human muscle... and a bit of gravity. (That's about 145 kph for most of the world, btw.)
One key that the University of Liverpool team expects will allow it to surpass the 83 MPH record set last year (by a similarly odd "bicycle") is that the bike will be built for the riders who will compete, allowing it to be just the right size for each of them. (The ULVT aims to break both the male and female world records with its capsule-like bike.)
The use of a camera and monitoring system rather than a transparent screen in the front for the humans who get to zip along at 90 MPH or so on (er... in?) this "bicycle" is also important, but the record-setting Dutch bike, the VeloX3, had the same benefit.
There are a number of other differences compared to a normal bike as well, of course. Gizmag's Darren Quick writes:
To achieve this speed, the rider, who will be seated just 5 inches (13 cm) from the floor, will need to get their legs pumping to generate over 700 W of power, which the team points out is enough power to light the average UK home. The power will be delivered to the wheels via a transmission system with a gear ratio of 17:1, as compared to the gear ratio of 4:1 found on a standard bicycle.
The ULVT says the Arion1 will weigh less than 55 lb (25 kg) and, despite the blue and white color scheme pictured in the renderings, the final colors for the vehicle are yet to be decided – although tartan, which was suggested by one team member, has apparently been ruled out.
It's not clear who will be riding the Arion1 on competition day in September 2015, but the riders will apparently have survived 16 months of training prior to that day.
In case you missed it (I did), here's a video of the 2013 winner and its record run: