Posted by: spencersteele | April 7, 2010

TechPost #3 – The Future of the Bicycle

1.0 Introduction

The Jetbike of 2029 did not come to us overnight; rather it required intuitive engineering over the course 19 years. This article describes the progression of the bicycle in three stages since 2010: The Railbike of 2015, the Hoverbike of 2020 and the Jetbike of 2029.

2.0 The Railbike of 2015

Back in 2010 people were having a tough time trying to find “green” ways to get around. The archaic bicycle at the time was too slow to keep up with the fast (but dirty) transportation of the time. Chris Yoon, a UBC Engineering student in Vancouver British Columbia, had a vision of riding his bike on the sky train rail on his way to school. It took 2 years but in 2012, he built the world’s first “Railbike”. The Railbike featured magnetic wheels that could attach to the skytrain rail could accelerate the rider up to 80 km/h. It also featured a 64-speed gear transmission which allowed the rider to bike off the sky train. Because of its high price tag and fatality rate when used on sky train tracks, the railbike was only exclusively available to wealthy daredevils.

A couple years later in 2015, Translink Canada developed SkyBike, “the infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of rail bikers and to get them off the sky train tracks” (Translink, 2014). In Vancouver, SkyBike rail tracks were the new way to travel around town and people actually started leaving their cars at home to join in with the growing trend. Because they were much smaller and inexpensive to construct compared to the sky train tracks, railbike tracks were popping up everywhere and connected the side streets to the major SkyBike arteries.

3.0 The Hoverbike of 2020

With more and more people opting to commute around the larger cities via rail-biking the complex infrastructure built to accommodate them was failing to keep up with them.  In 2018, Translink Canada announced that they would start limiting the number of railbike users at a time on the track to keep congestion at a minimum. Many government officials speculated this was “a pathetic attempt to hold on the rapidly decreasing number of customers that commuted by sky train and/or bus” (Jack Layton, 2018, p. 239).

One of the largest problems with the SkyBike system was the friction and large amounts of energy associated with accelerating the railbikes around, this limited the size of the SkyBike network. The combined effort of a couple of SFU Mechatronics Engineering Graduate Students unveiled the new future of the railbike craze, “The Hoverbike”.  The Hoverbike was like nothing else before it, losing the wheels found in contemporary bicycles it hovered over a track through the use of magnetic propulsion.  The Discovery Channel quoted it as “beginning of a new technological age” (Discovery Channel, 2020). Translink quickly bought onto it and soon after the rest of the world followed suit.

4.0 The Jetbike 2029

Now almost 10 years later we are in the midst of a technological revolution. The Hoverbike has inspired a decade of innovation to which we have to thank for the Hovercar and many other new forms of “green” transportation. With city centers accelerating their citizens around on Hovertracks people are finding ‘the fun is no longer in the getting there’.

The time to free ourselves from the constraints of tracks and roads is now, it’s time for the arrival of the Jetbike. Harley Davidson, having done extremely well off its new “TrackWarrior” line has teamed up with NASA to develop the much talked about fuel-cell-powered Jetbike of the future.  The fuel-cell “uses hydrogen gas to react with oxygen gas to form water and electricity” (Ballard Power Systems, 2028) used to power the propulsion jets.  The Jetbike will allow riders to fly wherever they desire without the limitations of fuel and roads or tracks. We speculate it will still be some time before the Jetbike will be affordable to the average Joe but Harley Davidson promises to deliver an “affordable solution to track dependency by 2030” (Harley Davidson, 2029).  If history has shown us anything, buyers might have to wait a couple more years for Asian motorcycle makers to catch up.


Ballard Power Systems. (2028 March 3). General Overview of present Fuel Cell Technology.

Retrieved  February 28, 2029 from

Discovery Channel. (2020 February 28). The Railbike. Retrieved March 12, 2029 from


Harley Davidson USA. (2029 January 23). Harley Davidson teams up with NASA to develop

Jetbike design. Retrieved on February 26, 2029 from http://www.harley-

Layton, J.  (2018). The Rise and Fall of the New Democrat Party. Toronto: Canada Press.

Translink. (2014). SkyBike Transportation. Retrieved on February 25, 2029 from

Posted by: spencersteele | March 31, 2010

Tech Post #4 Fictional Facebook Profile : Arthur C Clarke

I chose to do my fictional facebook profile on that of Arthur C Clarke, a famous science fiction writer from the 20th century.

Here it is:


Cherry, Matt (1999). God, Science, and Delusion: A Chat With Arthur C. Clarke. Retrieved from on March 31 2010.

McAleer, Neil. (1992). Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography. Contemporary Books, Chicago.

New York Times (2008). Arthur C Clarke , Premier Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 90. Retrieved from  on March 31 2010.

Wikipedia. (2008). Arthur C Clarke. Retrieved from  on March 31 2010

Posted by: spencersteele | March 24, 2010

TechPost #2 : The Bicycle in Context to the Industrial Revolution

The Bicycle in Context to the Industrial Revolution

By Spencer Steele


1.0 Introduction

The evolution of the Bicycle has taken place over 500 years. Like many other machines, the modern day Bicycle was heavily influenced by the Industrial Age occurring in Europe.  This report is divided into 3 categories of bicycle development:  Pre-Industrial, Industrial and Post-Industrial.

2.0 Pre-Industrial

Like the Human species, the bicycle did not start out the way it is today. The earliest predecessor to the bicycle was known as the “Draisines”, or Laufmaschine, (“running machine”), and was invented by Baron Karl von Drais. Composed of a wooden frame and handles, the “Draisines” was a method of transportation which the rider could steer while pushing the bike along with his feet (Canadians Science and Technology Museum, 2006). The Draisines “set new standards of elegance and performance, and sparked an unprecedented flurry of experimentation with human-powered vehicles” (Herlihy, 2006).

By 1818, the Laufmaschine was very popular in Paris and would go on to inspire Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, the inventors of the famous “Velocipede”. The “Draisines” design took place just before the Industrial Revolution in Europe. Because of the amount of work it took to build the “Draisines”, only members of the upper class could afford it, and it was tool of pleasure rather than that of transportation.                                                                            

3.0 Industrial

At the time of the Agricultural Industrial Age in England, more jobs were being found in the cities, to make ends meet many farmers had to go work in the city as there was less demand for their specialization (Kreis, 2006).  The result was a rapid need for transportation to and from the city centers. The Velocipede was the answer to this growing problem.  In the early 1860’s Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement utilized a mechanical crank drive to power their precursor to the bicycle, the Velocipede. The Velocipede had a lighter steel tubular frame and pedals that spun a large front wheel to accelerate it to high velocities. The front wheel was slightly larger than the rear wheel and incorporated a comfortable saddle seat.

The Industrial Age was absolutely necessary for the development of the “penny-farthing”, a tall bicycle featuring wire wheels and solid rubber wheels (Norcliffe, 2001). The use of wire wheels and rubber tires greatly enhanced traction, however I’m sure the ride must’ve been very shaky and made for an uncomfortable commute.  

The problem with the penny-farthing is that it was so high that it was difficult to mount and proved very hard to balance while riding.  Despite this disadvantage they have been extremely popular throughout the ages and can now be seen amusedly ridden by clowns in circuses. Eventually, the safety concerns associated with the penny-farthing would bring around a new era of bicycles after the Industrial Revolution.

4.0 Post-Industrial

After the Industrial Revolution, specifically in 1885, the “safety bicycle” was invented by John Kemp Starley. As its name suggests, it was much safer then the higher bicycles of the Industrial Revolution. A large factor was the smaller wheel diameter and introduction of a rear chain drive which transferred power to the rear wheel rather than the front, making steering much easier.  

While the new “safety bicycle” was hitting the streets, John Dunlop “reinvented the pneumatic tire” (Norcliffe, 2001) making driving on paved roads much more efficient. The safety bicycle would go on to influence the design of modern mountain bikes, touring bikes and BMX bikes.

5.0 Conclusion

The Industrial Age and the Bicycle co-evolved together in a symbiotic-like relationship. The various forefathers of the bicycle were necessary for transporting the workers that drove the Industrial Revolution while the ability to replicate the parts needed to construct them could only be found during and after the revolution. Many features of modern day bicycles can be traced back to the Industrial Age, making it an important time to the history of this technology.



Canadian Science and Technology Museum. (2006). Baron von Drais’ Bicycle. Retrieved from on March 22nd 2010.

Herlihy, David V. (2004). Bicycle. London, England:  Yale University Press.

Kreis, Steven. (2006, October 11). The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in England. Retrieved from on March 24, 2010.

Norcliffe, Glen. (2001)The Ride to Modernity: The Bicycle in Canada, 1869-1900. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.

Posted by: spencersteele | March 18, 2010

Reflection of the Gong Show we call Week 8

So we did this splendid group excersize, writing a group paper on god knows what. First of all, your probably thinking how the hell do you write a Group Paper? Oh yeah! I forgot to add the fact that it was a group of over 40 people!

I’ve learnt all about the awesomeness of writing a group paper. First of all, you have  to have someone to lead and organise how its to be done. Ussually I’m the type of guy to do it but I wanted to see someone else do it for a change…and well…no one did!!! You would think great! You can just work on your own and add your part in. Well thats what I thought with my group. I ended up leading my group in the “real world” after 80% of the class took off to god knows where.  Despite having our topic stolen right out from underneath us by other groups twice, we were managed along pretty well. Since no one else did, we throw together a report page and gave a good description of how all the groups should organize our topics together.

We mucked around with our own group page for a while, all of us experienced the agony of having one of your own team members delete your work ( think I was guilty of it a few times). Then we started to choose our own examples of how size has an impact on the effects of crowds. Each of us found a great story and added our sources to the bottom of our group 5 page. We then went on to add these stories to the nice little report page we made.

It wasn’t until some little character, won’t mention any names, decided that she would go and get herself admin privileges and delete our report page and organise the entire wiki the way she wanted it, deleting alot of stuff as she went. I can’t even imagine the amount of self-righteousness it would take to delete the work of others without even asking.

Wikis are a great example of why good leadership and enforcement is needed in a society. Otherwise anyone can come in and destroy whatever they don’t like.

So in short this “collective assignment” was an utter disaster because there was no leadership. Wikis are incredibly easy to edit and add in what you like while while deleting stuff you don’t. Its hard to imagine having information available to anyone online that can be edited so easily to bias someone to someone elses goals.  Unlike something I would’ve written on my own, I am sure this paper is a stew of styles featuring every possible writing mistake imaginable! There was so much collaberative information in the essay that I bet it would’ve been very hard for the reader to get a clear picture of whats going. Had I written it on my own it would be better organised into sections with lots of pictures! (Since a picture is worth a thousand words right!) Ussually, when people work together on something the overall product is smooth with very little biases. For example, because each person did a seperate section of the paper, there could possibly be some sections that contradict others.  Looking back, had everyone been in the same room then maybe it would’ve flowed together alot nicer. This excersize was effective in illustrating what wikis are all about but the collaborate group part failed miserably because of it.

In the end, half my group of 6 didn’t get our deleted stories up because the TA shut us out. So our contibutions to the entire 2 hour gong show were lost and never to be found again. Maybe not such a bad thing considering we can say we didn’t contribute to it? Maybe…

Till next time,

Spencer Steele

Posted by: spencersteele | March 1, 2010

The Olympic Fence


The Olympic Fence

By Spencer Steele

For the last couple months I have had a negative outlook on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It wasn’t until the night of the opening ceremonies that I was truly inspired by the games, and my view completely changed. During the last 2 weeks Vancouver has been criticized by about every foreign media imaginable regarding the snow conditions on Cypress Mountain, the fatal Luge track and the fence surrounding the Olympic Cauldron. The truth is that we have not had the greatest conditions for these Winter Games, but we have made the most of it with the resources we do have.   After all, we are Canadians, since 1867 we’ve adapted to our harsh Canadian climates and created the beautiful country we call Canada.

To get the story straight, our Februarys are not usually like this in Vancouver, instead they are quite chilly and accompanied by snow or lots of rain. Despite the lack of snow on Cypress we’ve had some amazing races, including an awesome start to Ski Cross, an entirely new Winter Olympic Sport. Part of this has to do with us trucking in snow to Cypress Mountain from other local mountains.

Another incident was at the Whistler Luge Track, where Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died after losing control of his Luge sled. After watching the horrific replays I do believe that it was not the athlete’s fault but rather the track itself.  An Olympic athlete who was injured on the same track back in November had warned VANOC that the track was too fast and dangerous. However, Luge is a sport of speed; competitors try to race down the track to get the best times. Like every Olympic Committee previously before it, the challenge is to make a faster more competitive track. In an attempt to make the fastest Luge track ever, has Vancouver 2010 represented a limit for the sport?  As shown by the death over a week ago, experience and skill can only protect you so much.

Among other controversies, the Olympic Fence has become famous. Like something you would find enclosing a high security prison, the Olympic Fence is a 12 foot chain link fence. After complaints from thousands, the chain link fence was eventually moved back 50 feet closer to the flame and a section cut out so you could take a clean picture. The only problem with this was that you have to be 6 feet tall to be able to take one.  After noticing this, VANOC (Vancouver Olympic Committee) had plexiglass inlaid into the fence so people could have a clear view of the cauldron. Despite all of their efforts, I’m not sure that a large fence, if any fence at all was necessary. I have to give it to them though, as making these changes during such a busy time is very difficult.

Overall, I’ve never seen people in Vancouver so friendly and united together. These Olympics have been truly inspiring, as a Canadian who is paying for them, I have no doubt that they have and will continue to be worth all the headache and costs associated with them.
Till next time,

Spencer Steele

Posted by: spencersteele | February 11, 2010

Tech Post #1 – Gear and Chain

Heres the word version of my techpost on the modern day bicycle.

TECH POST #1 – The Bicycle (draft 1)

Posted by: spencersteele | February 11, 2010

Studio Lab #2 – The Need to Communicate

Heres our Studio Lab #2. All you have to do is click on the word document link.

The Need of Communication – DRAFT 6

Posted by: spencersteele | February 11, 2010

TECHPOST #1 – Gear and Chain

Gear and Chain

By Spencer Steele


February 10th 2010

Tech 114 / Lab 1

Simon Fraser University

Surrey, BC.


Table of Contents

1.0 The Bicycle

        1.1.  What is the Bicycle?

        1.2.  How does it Work?

        1.3.  How is it Used?

                 1.3.1. Transportation

                 1.3.2. Recreation

                 1.3.3. Racing

2.0 “Cycling to Carbon Neutrality Article”

                 2.1.  Article Summary

                 2.2.  Effects of the Article on Cycling

                 2.3.  Reversal Effects


Table of Figures

Fig.1 Parts of a Bicycle

Fig.2 Mountain Biking

Fig.3 Simon Fraser University


1.0  The Bicycle

         1.1. What is the Bicycle?

                        The bicycle is a  “vehicle consisting of a light frame mounted on two

                        wire-spoked wheels one behind the other and having a seat,

                        handlebars for steering, brakes, and two pedals or a small motor by

                        which it is driven.” (“Definitions of Bicycle”, n.d)

Fig.1 Parts of a Bicycle (taken from

           1.2. How does it Work?

                       The person riding the bike, referred to as the cycler, turns the pedals,

                       which power the drive train of the bicycle.  The use of gear shifters,

                       when used along with rim or disc brakes, provides the cyclist with

                       increased safety and efficiency (“Bicycle Brake Systems”, n.d.). A set

                      of forward handles attached to the front forks of the bike allows the

                      cyclist to make use of the bike’s sharp turning radius.

            1.3. How is it Used?

                      The bicycle is used for 3 main reasons: Transportation, Recreation,

                      and Racing.

                      1.3.1.   Transportation

                                   Cycling, while not extremely popular in Vancouver, remains

                                   an incredibly efficient and healthy way to travel. In many

                                   countries,the bicycle is the main form of transportation,

                                  going places whereautomobiles cannot.

                      1.3.2.   Recreation

                                    Biking is a great way to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle.

                                    BMX and Mountain Biking are two popular forms of cycling

                                    recreation that require special bike variations. 

Fig.2 Mountain Biking (courtesy of Mountain Equipment Co-op)

                     1.3.3.   Racing

                                   The “Tour de France” is one of many national well-known bike

                                   races; this form of cycling is extremely popular in Europe. 

                                   Another form of racing is Triathlon, where participants race

                                   extreme distances through swimming, running, and biking.

2.0  “Cycling to Carbon Neutrality”

             2.1. Article Summary

                     Cycling to Carbon Neutrality was an article written 2 years ago by

                     Azaria Botta, a Simon Fraser University student.  It addresses the

                     lack of infrastructure at all three of the SFU campuses for cycling to

                     be an effective form of transportation. By improving “alternative

                     transportation options and facilities”, reducing “the incentive to

                     drive”, and educating the SFU community, Botta (2008) believes

                     that the university could make its eco-friendly image come true

                     and provide a safe alternative way for its students to commute.


                      Fig.3 Simon Fraser University (provided by Stefan Lorimer)

             2.2. Effects of the Article on Cycling

                      The effect of the article on Bicycles was very positive. Botta promoted

                      mmuting by bicycles saying:

                                “Biking is a sustainable choice because it is a zero-emission

                                  mode of transport that has the power to reduce congestion,

                                  promote healthy lifestyles, be used inter-modally (bikes    

                                 can be brought on buses and Skytrains), is economical, and 

                                 the bike network in Vancouver is growing. In high-density

                                 urban environments cycling can be more efficient than driving

                                 since traffic does not hinder erformance (Sustrans, 2008).

                                 Furthermore, cycle facilities an be inexpensive and easy to

                                  implement into existing infrastructure (Sustrans, 2008).”

                      By no means does the article degrade Bicycles as a form of

                      transportation, but rather promotes it and accuses society of not

                      maintaining values and infrastructure to support the idea of a

                      sustainable transportation.

               2.3. Reversal Effects

                       If the recommendations in this article were followed and cycling

                       increased then the bicycle could eventually be replaced by other

                       technologies.  Firstly, as Botta made note of it in her article, the

                       electric bike is evolution of the bicycle that could work because of

                       its ability to “overcome the limitations of topography” (Botta, 2008)

                      and weather conditions. However, electric bikes are expensive and

                      the negative stigma associated with them would have to evolve as

                      well.  Another reversal could be the effect of a similar simpler

                      technology, the skate board. Over time, the popular skateboard

                      has evolved into other forms, such as the long board, a longer and

                     wider skateboard “commonly used for cruising, downhill racing,

                     slalom racing, or transportation” (“Long Board”, n.d.).  The long

                     board is another human-powered technology that could outperform

                     the bike because of its smaller size, facilitating it to be stored in

                     school/work lockers. Both the skate and long board fall behind when

                    compared with the bicycle’s ability to traverse steeper slopes.



            Azaria Botta. (2008). Cycling to Carbon Neutrality

                          Part 1: Facilities. Retrieved February 10, 2010 from SFU database

            Bicycle. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2010, from    


            Bicycle Brake Systems. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10,2010, from 


            Definitions of Bicycle. (n.d.).  Retrieved February 10, 2010, from



            Long Board. (n.d.) Retrieved February 10, 2010, from


             Mountain Equipment Co-op

                          (n.d.). Mountain Biking. Retrieved February 10, 2010, from


              Sustrans. (2008). Sustrans Home. Retrieved from 


              Stefan Lorimer. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2010 from


Posted by: spencersteele | February 9, 2010

2010 Vancouver Olympic Games Cauldron

With the 2010 Olympic Games starting in 3 more days theres a lot of stuff thats going to be happening here in Vancouver. Among debate is what is going to happen with the symbolic Olympic Cauldron.  I don’t beleive it has been announced what Vanoc decided to do but there are some rumours that it will be inside the airlocked BC Place.  I found an article while doing a search on it, I’ve included a clip of it. I believe it was actually created by an SFU student by the name of Ian Meredith in 2006.

Canadian Possibilities

Exactly 12 years after Kikutake’s design was lit in Japan, billions of viewers across the globe will be watching Vancouver’s own Olympic cauldron lit in that breathtaking climactic moment that signifies the coming of another Olympiad.  But how will Vancouver choose to design this iconic figure of the games? Will there be a ten metre inuksuk with a flaming head erected on top of BC place? Will there be a huge flame sprouting from the top of Science World? The 2010 ILANAAQ logo received mixed reviews, and the question facing the cauldrons designers will be intricate, and controversial. How do we build something that will, in true Canadian fashion, make everyone happy in a diverse multicultural society? Like the logo, we may see a stylistic, modern, but unassuming design. 
 The Vancouver Olympic Committee has established a list of standards and values that they intend to maintain throughout their plan to make 2010 the ‘greenest’ games ever. In terms of cauldron design, the major question facing the Olympic committee is how Vancouver will uphold their commitment to energy efficiency and pollution prevention while designing their Olympic cauldron. Premier Gordon Campbell has expressed his wish to fuel the flame with BC’s own off-shore oil. However, the 2010 organizers must ask themselves if burning a non-renewable resource simply to appease the aesthetics and traditions of the games, and the provincial government’s political agenda, is acceptable. Humanity is entering a new age where greater political value is placed on sustainable, ‘green’ initiatives; and with these changing values may come a new era of Olympic cauldron design.
 The Olympics are a difficult balance of embracing change, and honouring tradition. Games organizers will need to rethink what is perhaps the most sacred symbolic aspect of the games; the Olympic flame.   Fueling the Vancouver Cauldron with fossil fuels is not an accurate reflection of the Vancouver Olympic Committee’s, or many Canadian’s values. Here lies an opportunity to flaunt the capabilities of Canadian ingenuity. Perhaps the flame could be fuelled with methane gas; either from the Vancouver land fill or from cows farmed on British Columbia’s acclaimed agricultural land reserve. Perhaps chicken manure, or trees devastated by the pine beetle should feed BC’s first Olympic flame? Wind or solar power could also be harnessed. This could be the perfect opportunity to show the fuel-cell technologies that Vancouver’s Ballard Industries has developed. These ideas may seem far-fetched, but the point needs to be made through design. Canada must take the initiative and lead the world into a new age of imaginative, innovative, and intelligent design, and the best way to reflect our growing commitment to sustainability is through Vancouver’s Olympic cauldron.
Below are pictures of the last couple Olympic Cauldrons
2008 Beijeng  Summer Olympics Cauldron


2004 Athens Summer Olympics Cauldron


2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Cauldron 


2000 Sydney Summer Olympics Cauldron


 1996 Atlanta Symmer Olympics Cauldron

1994 Barcelona Winter Olympics Cauldron 

Posted by: spencersteele | February 2, 2010

My 94 S10 Blazer Rebuild

So heres the engine rebuild I did on my 94 s10 Blazer I bought a year ago. I really wanted a small suv with 4×4, then I found this s10 in pretty good shape, or so I thought, until the engine blew up in Kelowna!  Problem was a broken/bent connecting rod. The engine is a central port fuel injected 4.3 liter v6. Its the power option that puts out around 200hp.  So heres some pictures before, in between and present.

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