MaynoothBike uses linear fork pedals for comfier ride
By C.C. Weiss May 22, 2014
The MaynoothBike fork contains linear drive hardware in each prong
Seeking to cross the relaxed-back comfort of a recumbent with a higher seating position, German engineer Christoph Lenz has innovated the MaynoothBike, named after his home in Maynooth, Ireland. In place of the usual bottom bracket-mounted crankset, the dual drivetrain is built into the fork. The linear drive not only creates a more relaxed seating position, it offers some claimed efficiency advantages, too.
The MaynoothBike provides an alternative to the traditional bicycle Designer Christoph Lenz enjoys a ride on his MaynoothBikeA simple Maynooth design with small rear wheelA simple Maynooth design with small rear wheelView all
Back in 2010, Lenz, an avid cyclist, found himself unsatisfied with the typical cycle options. He didn't like the high saddle or bent-forward biomechanics of traditional bike geometry, and he didn't like the low, long positioning of the recumbent. He began brainstorming, sketching designs and collecting usable parts from local scrapyards, piecing together a bike more suitable to his tastes with some help from a friend with a machine shop. He assembled and tweaked several prototypes, eventually getting a German patent for the design in 2013.
Lenz's design is a bike with pedals mounted to either side of the fork, rather than a circular-motion crankset on the bottom of the frame's midsection. When one pedal is muscled down, the other automatically comes up courtesy of the central pulley. The chain doesn't rotate full circle, but simply moves up and down in reaction to the pedal-connected inner slides. Each pedal has its own chain and set of gears, and each pedal stroke adds momentum to the freewheel sprockets mounted to the front bicycle wheel.
As applied to Lenz's initial complaints, the MaynoothBike's drive allows for a lounge-like seat with backrest. The legs aren't stretched out or raised up, and the rider is more level with traffic than on a recumbent. The rider is also lower than on a traditional bike, allowing him to put his feet to the ground with ease. Lenz has put 4,000 km (2,485 mi) on his MaynoothBike and is convinced that the design is more suited to his tastes than other bike options.
Designer Christoph Lenz enjoys a ride on his MaynoothBike
Lenz also claims that linear motion creates more efficient cycling than the traditional circular motion. His evidence is incidental, citing a race with a friend on a traditional bike and the general view that stepping is superior to spinning.
"The higher performance of a down push of the legs compared to a circular move is well known and documented," he says, without citing any specific studies. "On a step machine you will have a higher performance than on an exercise bike at the same pulse frequency."
By rethinking the drivetrain, Lenz has also created a simpler, more compact frame. Looking through Lenz's photos, it's clear that he's experimented with several different frame and wheel set-ups. The version that appears the most replaces the ubiquitous dual-triangle frame design with a single-tube fork connecting the head tube with the rear wheel and a small rear triangle supporting the seat. Lenz tells us that the most current design uses 20-in wheels in front and back, measures 1,550-mm (61 in) in overall length, and has a 1,050-mm (41.3-in) wheelbase. The seat height is adjustable between 550 and 650 mm (21.7 and 25.6 in), and the handlebars are set at around 1,080 mm (42.5 in).
Of course, while the MaynoothBike works great for Chrisotph Lenz, it's not necessarily for everyone. The linear drive allows for only a single speed, so there's no switching gears when the pedals get heavy or the ride becomes slow. Having the drivetrain built into the front fork eliminates a lot of aftermarket components designed for traditional bikes, such as a suspension fork.
A simple Maynooth design with small rear wheel
They say you never forget how to ride a bike, so we imagine unlearning can be difficult. Lenz alludes to this issue on his website, saying that it can take a little while to get accustomed to the up-down pedaling and the fact that the bike can't be pushed backward. We'd also imagine that the altered biking might open a rider up to different types of muscle and joint pains and injuries.
Lenz doesn't seem all that concerned with how much of a market his design will attract. He plans to offer several levels of DIY build kits, as opposed to working on a production run of bikes. The "build a bike kit" will include the specialized components of the design that aren't readily available in shops. The €490 (plus shipping) kit will allow mechanically inclined bike hackers to build up their own linear-drive MaynoothBikes using common tools and bicycle components, without the need to weld, mill or metal turn. For those that are less mechanically inclined, Lenz also plans to offer a full "bike in a box," which can be assembled within half an hour, for €980 plus shipping.
Lenz plans to offer the 'bike in a box' kit for €980 plus shipping
Lenz launched a crowd-funding campaign earlier this year in an attempt to fund the launch of the build kits. While he fell short of his goal, he received enough interest to pursue the launch and plans to have the kits available within the next six weeks. He also plans to sell spare parts via his website, which is linked below. He has been touring bike shows around Europe to show the MaynoothBike to interested gear heads.
For those that have access to specialized tools and shops, Lenz currently offers a pamphlet with basic information, drawings and instructions. It comes complete with a MaynoothBike serial number and provides access to a community, where users can share information about their builds, ask questions, provide tips on metal workshops and suppliers in the area, etc. That pamphlet is available in both German and English for €15, including shipping.
We're not sure whether or not we'd like the ride of the MaynoothBike more than the average bicycle, but we love Lenz's tenacity in seeing his design through. We also like that he's passing that spirit along to others, fostering a hacking community rather than simply selling a production model for thousands of euros. We hope to cover more MaynoothBike designs in the future.
In pictures: Charged Up e-bike show
By Ben Coxworth May 22, 2014
A few of the bikes that were featured at Charged Up
As many readers are no doubt already aware, last Thursday we attended the Charged Up e-bike media event at the Crystal Springs Resort in northern New Jersey. The day was mainly a chance for a select group of journalists to chat with representatives from a number of electric bike companies, and to ride some of their bikes around the resort grounds. While we've already profiled a few of the stand-outs, here's a quick look at some of the other e-bikes that caught our eye.
The Charged Up show tent at Crystal Springs Resort The Surly Pugsley fatbike is quite an attention-getter in its own right ...... but this one also features a BionX hub motor and battery pack The M1 Sedan single-speed bike View all
Say what you will about the attributes of electric bikes, but one thing we really noticed is that they are heavy. While the assistance provided by the motor largely makes up for that added weight, it was nonetheless nice to see a few that weighed almost as little as regular human-powered bikes. One in particular, the titanium-framed ProdecoTech Titanio 29er, claims the title of "world's lightest e-bike" at 32 lb (14.5 kg).
Additionally, although most of us probably think of e-bikes as commuters, it was fun to try out the electric mountain bikes. There's still some question, however, as to legality of taking motorized vehicles on off-road trails in different regions. The M1 Erzberg offers a compromise – its hub-motored rear wheel can be quickly swapped out for a regular wheel, turning it into a non-electric bike within seconds.
The $2,199 ProdecoTech Outlaw SS has a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h)
... and for people who secretly really want a motorcycle, there's the Outlaw SS. One of the most popular bikes at the event, its 750-watt motor runs in throttle mode only (there's no pedal-assist option), and it has a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h).
You can see the Titanio, Erzberg, Outlaw SS and a bunch of other electrically-enhanced two-wheeled wonders, in the photo gallery.
Gas-powered Tortuga Trike aims to bring trike drifting up to speed
By Nick Lavars
May 25, 2014
The team behind the Tortuga are looking to take the sport of trike drifting up a notch
The team behind the Tortuga are looking to take the sport of trike drifting up a notch
Image Gallery (17 images)
Trike drifting, a sport that originated in New Zealand in 2009 and has since spread all around the globe, is typically the plaything of adrenaline junkies with long and winding downhill runs at their disposal. Drift-enthused DIYers have further indulged their taste for sideways movement by fixing motors to their rides, making it possible to slip and slide over flatter terrain. The Florida-based Tortuga Trikes is looking to take things up a notch, whacking a 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) motor on the back to bring the hobby a little closer to a drift car experience.
The front forks sport stunt pegs for your feet and hold a 26-inch BMX wheelGas powered, the 6.5 hp motor delivers torque directly to the rear wheels for a top speed ...The Florida-based Tortuga Trikes is looking to take things up a notch, whacking a 6.5 hp (...The frame is made from hardened steel and according to the company, can support riders wei...View all
Much like the Verrado electric drift trike from Arizona-based Local Motors, Tortuga was inspired by a hill-less Florida landscape. With contingents of the local drift community looking for ways of getting sideways that are cheaper and more accessible than shelling out for a full-fledged drift car, the team set about devising an alternative.
The Tortuga takes a similar shape to Verrado, though with some notable differences. The 6.5-hp motor runs on any type of gasoline and delivers torque directly to the rear wheels for a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h). The company tells us that each tank should be good for around 20 hours or roughly 40-50 miles (65-80 km) of drifting. The company opted for rear-wheel rather than front-wheel drive, as it says this allows for more advanced drifting techniques, though with PVC slicks wrapped around the 10-inch go kart wheels to create a loss of traction, we suspect it might also be a little trickier to control.
Gas powered, the 6.5 hp motor delivers torque directly to the rear wheels for a top speed ...
The front forks sport stunt pegs for your feet, a 20-inch wheel and are fitted with A-brakes, like those you might find on a typical bicycle frame. The frame is made from hardened steel and, according to the company, can support riders weighing up to 450 lb (204 kg). Tortuga is offering the trike powder-coated in a choice of 10 colors: sea foam green, shocker yellow, tangerine with gold flake, white, black (gloss or matte), red, silver, green, bright coral and purple.
The team has taken to Kickstarter to raise funds and scale-up production. An early pledge of US$2,250 will put you in line for one of the gas-powered drift trikes, with Tortuga hoping to begin shipping in July 2014 if all goes to plan.
You can see the trike taken for a spin in the video below.
Source: Tortuga Trikes