A new bike speed record – not once, not twice, but THREE times!
Canada’s Team Aerovelo put on quite a show during the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada, when their aerodynamic speed bike Eta, piloted by Aerovelo Co-Founder Todd Reichert, broke the previous world record of 133.78kph / 83.23mph, set in 2013 by a team of Dutch students, three times!
* On Thursday, Sept. 17, Eta powered to a fantastic speed of 137.93kph / 85.71mph.
* On Friday, Sept. 18, Eta broke that record, hitting a speed of 139.21kph / 86.50 mph.
* On Saturday, Sept. 19th, Aerovelo broke Friday’s record when Eta hit a speed of 86.65mph / 139.45kpm!
The multi-record-breaking performance capped off a year of testing and refining Eta on state of the art tracks and in their University of Toronto lab, after placing third in 2014. After six years at the competition, the last two with Eta, Co-Founders Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson were thrilled with the performance and hard work and efforts of their team of volunteers and University of Toronto students from the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.
“This has been a dream of ours for years. This year, we spent more time preparing and testing, and it feels incredible to have all that pay off”, said Robertson. Reichert commented, “We knew going in Eta was the fastest bike we’ve ever built, but the course at Battle Mountain is so unique, this was the first time we really saw the bike perform to its full potential. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done.”
Nerd interlude: the bike was called Eta, because this is the name of the Greek letter often used in engineering as the symbol for efficiency. And the Aerovelo team took the same detailed approach that has seen the Sky and British cycling teams be so successful: concentrating on marginal gains. Their focus on reducing or eliminating the forces that are resisting forward motion went so far as to calculate that a 1% change in pilot power was worth 0.49 km/hour, which was the same speed increment for chain efficiency. A 1% change in CdA or Aerodynamic drag area gained 0.28 km/hr and 1% change in rolling resistance brought in another 0.13 km/hr. Interestingly for somebody of my girth, a 1% change in bike mass only achieved a further 0.03 km/hr so the state of the economy for pies and Aspalls cyder is safe.
Held during the week of September 14-19, 2015, in Battle Mountain, Nevada, the World Human Powered Speed Challenge draws record-seeking cyclists from around the world to test their high tech speed bikes on highway 305 – described as one of the straightest, flattest, and smoothest road surfaces in the world. The international Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) sanctions all records. No known battle has ever taken place in or adjacent to the town of Battle Mountain which is situated on the valley floor, apart from the teams with their high speed bikes – and in 1870 Nevada’s first convention of Women’s Sufferage was held there. It now appears to be a slow-paced town, until the Kevlar and carbon fibre pods of the challenging teams turn up.
Eta is funded by Google, who came on board to support the project after Aerovelo’s Human Powered Helicopter, Atlas, won the AHS Igor Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Challenge in 2013 with a record-breaking flight. Google’s support allowed Aerovelo to focus full-time on the bike and test on the finest test tracks in North America. The project also received funding and support by donors, including significant contributions from The University of Toronto, GMC, Indeo Ideas Inc., Visual Unity and many others.
This obviously isn’t a “conventional” bike, but it does say to me that it is folly that the UCI (and probably other cycling authorities) reject all types of recumbent bikes – originally because they were faster, and, as the Aerovelo team and all the other competitors at Battle Mountain have shown, still are. Does the motor industry, along with car owners, reject those cars which have the engine at the rear as “non cars”, or those with transverse engines? Isn’t it time for cycling to recognise ALL bikes as just that – bikes. Especially when they are so fast, so efficient, and quite simply incredible.
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