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.

Bibliography


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

Retrieved  February 28, 2029 from http://ballard.com

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

http://www. DiscoveryChannel.ca

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-

davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/home.html

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

http://www.translink.ca/

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