Monday, May 5, 2008

Ideas for New Cycling Products : Part 2

Continued from the past post, Part 1.

7. Adaptive Stiffness - Wacky idea. A bike that will adapt its stiffness the more you ride it. Say Sam is a new bicyclist, knows nothing about bikes and goes out an purchases a new road bike model. Initially, for say the first 500-1000 miles, the bike is very compliant and accommodating, hence it is comfortable and he loves it. The more he rides it and perhaps races on it, the more the bicycle's stiffness adapts to his riding patterns. I'm thinking that the material of construction is a "smart" material that detects how the stresses it is subjected to changes as a function of time and then suitably "adapts". A cyclist knowing this, may perhaps be inclined to put more miles to get his bicycle to 'change'. This is the most perfect symbiosis I can think of in any sporting equipment - as a cyclist gets stronger and is able to ride more, the bicycle adapts too, yielding the rider more confidence in sprints and climbs.

8. The Smart Bicycle - Oh boy, my imaginations are kicking in right here. See, this idea encapsulates what I talked about in number 7. You have a smart bicycle that can instrinsically detect how stress and strains change over a period of time. Just like one would monitor his training progress on a powermeter software, you could perhaps have a software that helps download the bicycle's information onto a computer so one can visually see how his bike has 'behaved' over the course of the time he's ridden it. I also coin the term 'Life Curve', by which the user can monitor stresses, strains and predict with a certain amount of confidence the material behavior in future. This could perhaps lead to a better knowledge of the material and help avoid catastrophic failures, and financial losses. You could even know when its time to replace a bike. (Ofcourse, when I talk about material I'm referring to composites)

9. Bicycle LED Indicator - An LED based left, right and stop indicator, possibly something attachable to the rear side of the saddle and visible enough at night to drivers behind. Indicator switch will be mounted on a handlebar. Stop or brake lights will be automatically triggered if the brakes are pressed. Now something like this has been already done on jackets and tank tops. This research field deals with wearable electronics and I have discussed it in previous posts like this one.

10. A Big Center Page Poster in VeloNews magazine readers to remove and enhance their walls. It should sell! C''re with me on this aren't you?

11. The Memory Saddle : A saddle that conforms to the shape of your butt and sit bones that'll break in only after a handful of good miles. This will help avoid the scenario where one of your friends jump onto your bike (for a test ride) and mess all the saddle settings up.

12. Shape Changing Helmets : An intelligent shape changing helmet, that according to wind conditions become more or less streamlined. Or perhaps you could change its shape manually for a specific application, like say Time Trialling. This could throw out the need for using a different helmet every where you see. Whatever is built must be able to sufficiently protect the head, pass standards and must be lightweight but strong. Folding bicycle helmets have already been made so perhaps one could take a few ideas from that avenue?

13. A Handlebar Mounted Bookstand : Jeez, how many times have you wanted to read a book intead of watching stupid television while on your trainer. I don't have a T.V set at home and rarely hear MP3 music, but I love reading. Those wintry months when I would hop on the trainer for the 3 hour base sessions have been the most boring times of my life. Making this would be a simple machine shop job. But I feel the need is there. We spent too much time riding our bicycles.

14. Crash Cushioning : The bicycle is the most popular vehicle in the world. But bicycle racing is one of the most dangerous also. Lets face it, compared with other modes of transportation, the bicycle is ages behind in terms of crash safety. What happens to the rider as he falls is largely dependent on speed, how he lands, helmet function, guts, and a fair amount of chance. A large number of riders suffer from hip injuries, broken collar bones and wrists, rendering them useless for months. For professional riders who have dependant families, this means two or three lost paychecks and a dear life thats hanging in balance. How can we cushion a rider's crash? When I think of this situation, what quickly comes to mind is how NASA softened the Mars Exploration Rover's (MER) landing on the red planet by engineering special purpose airbags. Can something like this be incorporated into a rider without discomfort, perhaps in the critical spots of the hip? Keep imagining...

15. The Cable-less bicycle : Will a time come when the cabled bicycle will say goodbye? What possible modes of control can replace cables, perhaps electronic? Don't get me wrong, cables are very efficient in transferring tension and getting the work done. But as we progress and make huge improvements in other areas of bicycle technology (leaps I should say), should we leave the cable unscrutinized?

Thats all from my head for the moment. I wrote all this today and I could go on with sufficient time, but like I said in Part 1, bring in further ideas and drop in comments. This can get interesting if you're interested.


Anonymous said...

13 - already been done - i have one or had one - an old Blackburn model... works pretty well... not so good for rollers though.

also - i think it is kinda hard to read when doing intervals ymmv

thePig said...

Great post and some interesting ideas. Most of my cycling is in the form of touring so I am always interested in reducing weight. How about filling tires with something other than air - perhaps helium.

Could maybe be used to reduce rolling weight. There may also be gases that are better than air at maintaining a constant pressure over a wide range of temperatures.

Anonymous said...

Shape changing helmet? How about one that rotates readily on the rider's head to always present the most aerodynamic "face" to the wind like a wind vane?

AJ said...

I think a frameless bicycle would be cool. The cranks, bars, saddle etc would be held in place by some sort of magnetic or electronic field. When you're finished riding, poke a button and it all collapses for easy loading in the car or office corner. Could this also be the adaptive stiffness?