When the bicycle became popular in the beginning of the 19th century in southern Germany, England, and France, it was the first machine that championed private transportation. Almost 200 years after the invention of the vélocipède and Drais’ dandy horse, personal mobility is one of the highest imperatives in a globalized world. Today, our streets are filled with fixed-gears, roadsters, rickshas, BMX, and electric bikes.
The Human Power Team has demonstrated just how fast you can go with pure muscle power. The third model of the Dutch team’s high-tech recumbent bicycle, the VeloX 3, reached a speed of 133.78 km/h, setting a new world record for the fastest pedal-powered vehicle.
We visited the Human Power Team in their workshop in Delft, where lead engineer Dennis Berckmoes, although still in the middle of making the final preparations for their next record attempt, walked us through the details of the engineering process, that he and his colleagues from the student team go through every year, designing a new highs-peed prototype.
All of the components of the VeloX4, from the chassis made of extremely hard but super light carbon, to the aerodynamics that are tested in the wind tunnel of a space center, to the special gear system, to the 3D-printed special parts, are individually designed and produced.
“This is Formula 1 for bicycles,” as Dennis put it.
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