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First Annual Chainless Challenge: Fluid-Powered Bicycles!
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Senior Editor
Hydraulics & Pneumatics
Pascal
Picture of Paul J. Heney
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The first annual Chainless Challenge, sponsored by Parker Hannifin, was held in the Cleveland Metroparks in August.

See http://www.hydraulicspneumatics.com/200/IssueList/Article/False/11793/IssueList

Reader Mack Baxter of Widmer's Wine Cellar's, Inc. writes:

I have been very much interested in the subject of Hydraulic-Pneumatic drives for bicycles. Thank you for this article in the September 2005 issue. Here are some questions I have yet to see answered:

1.) How much improvement in efficiency is attained by these changes from the chain drive?

2.) How much added weight did these modifications make? For instance, UC Irvine — with all the cylinders — what was the total weight?

3.) How could Murray State’s entry be judged good for safety — with that open chain drive right between the operator’s legs!?

4.) What was the downfall of those that could not complete the race?

Thank you for the pictures, and for whetting our appetite on this interesting subject.
 
Posts: 262 | Location: Cleveland, OH | Registered: 05 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Senior Editor
Hydraulics & Pneumatics
Pascal
Picture of Paul J. Heney
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Hello, Mack, and thank you for your inquiry.

I'll take a stab at answering some of your questions.

1.) I believe the efficiency of the hydraulic drive is substantially lower than that of a chain drive. However, theoretically, the hydraulic bike offers a much easier way to recover braking power -- by using an accumulator instead of a flywheel. As you descend a hill, applying the brake would charge an accumulator with pressure. Releasing the brake would release energy and assist in climbing the other side of the hill. Theoretically, the hydraulic transmission could also be fully automatic and stepless. By incorporating a load-sensing valve, the volumetric ratio between the pump and motor could be adjusted automatically as the bike went uphill or down.

In our October 2005 issue, we have an article on a hydraulic transmission used in a delivery truck. This application is attractive because a delivery truck stops and starts so often, providing frequent opportunities to regenerate braking power.

See http://www.hydraulicspneumatics.com/200/IssueList/Article/False/11985/IssueList

I've also been informed of an ongoing project involving a hydraulic bicycle transmission using new pump and motor technology that overcomes efficiency problems.

2.) Weight of the hydraulic transmission does seem to be a disadvantage at this point. However, this is the first competitive attempt at creating a practical hydraulic transmission for bicycles. The weight differential could be overcome to some extent by conducting hydraulic fluid through the bike frame itself.

3.) This is a question for the judges.

4.) Mary Gannon, our associate editor, attended this event, and I think she said the entries that didn't finish could not scale a hill at the beginning of the course. Next year's Chainless Challenge will probably have the biggest hill near the end of the course. Again, this was the first time for this event, so I'm optimistic next year's event will be even better!

Again, Mack, thank you for your interest.

Alan L. Hitchcox
Editor
Hydraulics & Pneumatics
1300 East 9th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114 USA
216/931-9463
fax 216/696-1819
http://www.hydraulicspneumatics.com
 
Posts: 262 | Location: Cleveland, OH | Registered: 05 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Reynolds
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Seeing first-hand the bike submissions was interesting (and impressive — just walking up some of the hills the riders biked was daunting!), but more importantly, the students learned something they never really understood. In all of their team presentations, the students stressed that none of them had experience working with fluid power. They enjoyed the challenge of learning something new. It helped bring them together, and there was not one team that did not cheer another on throughout the entire race.

The size and weight of the bikes was much higher than in traditional styles, making it more difficult for the riders to pedal uphill. In fact, Cleveland State University, which did not submit a bike, said one of the main problems they came across was finding components that would fit the requirements of the bike. They spent a great deal of time trying to build a cylinder with speed slow enough to match a human's ability.

The bikes ranged in weight from about 45 to 140 lb, so clearly, the additional components dramatically increased the overall weight. All the teams said it would be one of their goals to obtain smaller, lightweight components that would better fit the needs of a human-powered bicycle.

Already looking forward to next year's competition, with more entries and new ideas!


Senior Associate Editor
Hydraulics & Pneumatics
 
Posts: 55 | Registered: 07 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Senior Editor
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Some photos ...

 
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Posts: 262 | Location: Cleveland, OH | Registered: 05 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Cleveland State University had a bike but was not able to compete because it was not ready for the competition. The components of the bike were at the competition for judging and inspection.

Our design tried to minimize weight by 1) using a higher system pressure to reduce component size (the relief valve was set at 3000 psi) and 2) eliminating any component that was not absolutely necessary (i.e. chains and intermediate drives). To that end, the pump was designed and fabricated by the student group and was an integral part of the front crank assembly. The pump is a fixed volume axial piston type. The rear motor was designed and fabricated by the group also and served as the rear wheel hub. It is an inverted design, variable volume axial piston motor. The swashplate is stationary and the cylinder rotates. The swashplate angle is controlled by a DC motor worm gear drive. The spokes of the rear wheel are attached to the cylinder, hence there are no chains in the rear drive either.

The design also incorporated an accumulator that could be charged from either pedaling the pump, or tipping the swashplate of the motor over center so it would act as a pump, or both.

The amount of work involved in accomplishing all this was staggering and overwhelmed those involved in the fabrication. We would have used off the shelf components but couldn't find either a pump that would meet the design requirements for the front crank or a motor that would serve as a hub for the rear wheel.

We are working on a new (similar) design for the 2006 competition. It will also prove to be a lot of work but we have a better understanding of what we're up against and a much earlier start.


William J. Atherton
Department of Mech Engrg
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Ave SH 233
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
 
Posts: 2 | Registered: 01 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Will,

Kevster here, I'm new to the groupee thing.

I use a bicycle for my main means of transportation so I use a small engine on it for faster commutes.

Back in 1986 I was in the Airforce and was an aircraft pnuedraulics specialist. Back then I had an idea as to using hydraulics for driving a bicycle instead of a chain/w gears etc.

Never did pursue the inventing of it since I didn't have the funds nor the time. Now my interest is purely as an end user hoping for a near future human/hdraulic powered cycle product that will even put my engine system to shame. I know the potential even though now my fluid dynamics is very rusty.

Though you could not enter the contest last year, your article tells me you are way ahead of the field in design. It sounds very simular to what I imagined would work for a bike way back when.

I live in Albuquerque and the weather here is very condusive to year round riding and bike route accommodations.

Would like to follow your progress and one day buy a bike designed by your dept. If I can answer any Qs, let me know. The worst that I could say is 'I don't know'.

Kevster
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 29 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Reynolds
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Plans are already underway for the 2006 competition, which is slated for July 31 and August 1, again at the Brecksville Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks. Eight of the Parker partner schools have already begun work on their designs, and other schools have been invited to join in the excitement. Check back for more information soon!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Mary Gannon,


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Posts: 55 | Registered: 07 October 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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amazing...
I have been scratching my head since 00' to try a hydraulic system for a bicycle,I am an avid ciclyst myself and the best idea would be to use the frame of the bicycle to double as fluid lines,oviously,a new generation of Ti and Al pumps & motors must come to existance,as the heavy weight of present components will condemn the hydraulic bike to be a novelity,rather than a revolution.
I hope Canondale or Trek have their ears on the ground.I have rough drawings I made years ago and I stumbled upon this by googling...hope it doesn't die here...
 
Posts: 1 | Registered: 02 February 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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