Next Big Thing – flywheel bicycles

Sick of putting in loads of effort to pedal up to speed only to have it wasted when braking? KERS style salvation awaits

How can a flywheel power a bike?

It’s one of those ideas that's so simple you wonder why it wasn’t done before. In this case an engineering student has won an award for fixing a car flywheel onto his bike. As the bike slows down the flywheel speeds up, then as the cyclist needs to get going again the flywheel’s spinning energy can be used to boost the bike back up to speed – meaning the braking energy isn’t lost.

Wow that’s awesome, why don’t all bikes have flywheels?

It’s still at an early stage of development and this particular flywheel weighs in at a hefty 6.5kg, which makes getting up to speed harder than normal anyway, so the benefits are limited. But with work this could be an affordable way of giving all the advantages of Formula 1’s KERS system, without the need for pricy batteries and charging.

Does it actually give that much power though?

Apparently it manages to increase acceleration and save you 10 per cent pedal energy when going between 20 and 24kph – which is a pretty quick pace. Going downhill will mean a satisfying charge that can be used on the uphill climb later – nothing’s wasted here. We’ll keep watching for a buyable version, but until then here’s a video from the award-winning bike’s creator explaining how it works.

[Source: Scientific American]

 

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