Dear God, what is that thing?

6

by Frank Steele on Jan 22, 2007 at 2:19 PM

treehugger | HyperBike: Hype or Hope?

HypeBike.jpg

Here at the Hugger, we love all kinds of bikes, and all kinds of riders: Low riders, tourists, commuters, racers, messengers. Even folks on trikes and those crazy MTV bikes from the ’80s where the rear wheel could pivot (what were those called?).

So it’s hard to harsh on somebody with something a little different. But the HyperBike reminds me of Mark Twain’s description of golf: It’s a good walk spoiled. Theoretically, it’s an attempt to take concepts from racing wheelchairs and upsize them to create a new kind of human-powered vehicle, one that uses hand as well as foot propulsion.

The HyperBike’s inventor has a working prototype and is looking for investors, so perhaps that excuses some of his more dubious marketing. He throws around 50 mph as an achievable speed, and says his bike will be better able to mix with car and truck traffic because its speed is closer to theirs. Unfortunately, in the demo video, we never see one exceed rest-home speeds. And each time the prototype approaches 5 mph, the outrigger wheel out front heads for the clouds until the rider (walker? prisoner?) slows back down. Maybe the production model will have wheelie bars

Also posted to Gizmodo, where many of the readers point out problems with the design: absurdly high aerodynamic drag (compared to recumbents or uprights) and a size that requires secure parking – you can’t just lean it against the wall of an apartment or office.

The inventor is interviewed in today’s Hamptons Online. Maybe there’s more here than meets the eye, but I’m dubious.

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Comments: 6

Also, note that the prototype weighs two hundred pounds.  I’m not a weight weenie by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s a significant amount of extra mass to be hauling around.

Check out the website and watch the “interview”. The inventor makes some fairly wild claims. I especially like the ones about “seats”. He’s supposedly been a cyclist for 30 years and he doesn’t call it a saddle? He’s also clearly never ridden a Brooks (but I’m biased). And perhaps he’s also never ridden a recumbent, or a trike - which I would have to guess would be much faster and easier to handle than this thing.

Fairly arrogant interview, IMHO, to dismiss the whole history of cycling as a paradigm spawned from a replacement of the horse, primarily for “leisure”. Seems hi-wheelers and velocipedes took a bit of work to master - certainly to get anywhere in the time it took a rider on a horse!

The video of the thing in the parking lot is quite humorous. More power to him if he can develop a world changing personal transport device. I’ll stick with my painful “seat” and diamond framed, unbalanced 2 wheeler. I can’t imagine commuting in one of these - hopping a curb?, hitting a pothole? navigating gridlock?

It does appear that he is targetting a “sport” market though - maybe he can team up with Segway and get rid of that goofy front wheel - some sort of internal gyroscope could keep you from rolling over. My guess is it might fit into the same pricing scheme - it can’t be cheap… and I’m not sure how you bring it up 5 floors to the apartment, or even change a tire on the road.

While I don’t think bikes alone can save the world of our transport problems - I do think that in its most basic form a bicycle is probably nearing a zenith in terms of design - bicycles offer fairly low cost, low embodied energy in manufacture, low learning curve for usability (dismiss the wrong way cyclist who swerves all over the road), incredible efficiency, low weight to “usability” ratio (or however you would describe how far can you go, how much can you carry, etc. vs. how light and nimble it is), and all the while it improves your health while you are on it!

Seems like its simplicity (2 wheels, chain drive, pneumatic tires, etc.) are what helps it achieve all this - not much in terms of extraneous parts and metal caging you in…!

Improvements in bicycle design seem to be incremental - and the HubrisBike is quite a leap - but to me it appears to be looking for problems that I didn’t know existed. It also looks more like wrapping a lite weight car around a person - and figuring out how to replace the engine with a human motor. If these become dominant on the roads - we retro diamond framed cyclists will have a new definition of “cager”.

I think the guy’s full of it. Who makes that logical leap? “My saddle is uncomfortable. I know… full-body harness.” The thing is just too impractical to be pulling the build-a-better-bike angle, especially when recumbents solve the problem that he’s presenting as his primary argument.

2 questions.  how do you change a flat and where’s the water bottle cage?  really now.

Everytime I look at that photo, I think of that Woody Allen movie about the future and that’s some ludicrous prop.

And [from patently silly](http://www.patentlysilly.com/patent.php?patID=6880844), the Hyperbike inventor could’ve harnessed wind power in those wheelchair inspired big wheels—put some fans on those and boom, you’d be riding the wind!

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