Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Flying Rider bike hangs the rider for more power

By

June 16, 2014

Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype

Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype

Image Gallery (5 images)

When architect and engineer David Schwartz was watching an uphill section of the 2011 Tour de France, he noticed that the riders' bodies were bobbing up and down as they pedaled. If only their backs had something to push against, he figured, that vertical motion could be converted into increased leverage on the pedals. The result is his proof-of-concept Flying Rider prototype bike.

Superficially reminiscent of the Fliz bike, the Flying Rider started out as a standard 1988 Schwinn road bike. Its seat tube and top tube have been removed, however, to be replaced with an arrangement of steel tubing that arches up over the rider's back. In what is no doubt the bike's most bizarre feature, the rider is suspended in a harness that hangs down from those tubes.

When they go to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down. According to Schwartz, this results in a pedaling efficiency gain of around 10 percent for a 170-lb (77-kg) rider.

The prototype is built around a 1988 Schwinn road bike

Recumbent bicycles are claimed to offer a similar advantage, in that the rider can push off against the seatback while pedaling – it's sort of like the difference between trying to push a fridge across the floor while simply standing next to it in the open, or standing next to it while bracing your back against a wall.

There are also tethers that can be purchased for use on regular bicycles, that loop around the rider's lower back and attach to the top tube. The idea is that as with the Flying Rider, they will hold the rider down and concentrate their power on the pedals. Their effectiveness is definitely a matter of debate, however.

When the rider goes to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sor...

While his current prototype might look a little ... odd, Schwartz is working on a purpose-built carbon fiber version which he hopes to have ready for the Interbike trade show in September. He welcomes inquiries from manufacturers wishing to license the design.

And perhaps you're wondering, is it comfortable? "We've tried two mountaineering harnesses from REI and also one custom-made leather weight lifter's belt," he told us. "None of them are perfect, but all of them are better for me than a seat ... I'm thinking that an athletic body-wear designer should rethink a hang glider-type harness for this bike."

Source: Flying Rider

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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25 Comments

I agree with the developer about the possibility of More Power as an uphill machine.

Bintz Shin
16th June, 2014 @ 08:36 pm PDT

I like being able to kick free of the bike if say the front rim fails.

Slowburn
17th June, 2014 @ 12:10 am PDT

At least your bike won't get stolen.

SamB
17th June, 2014 @ 01:47 am PDT

Just what you need if the bike falls over at speed, stuck in the frame!

Stuart Wilf Wilshaw
17th June, 2014 @ 02:08 am PDT

There could be an entire website dedicated to failed bicycle inventions.

Jeff Rosati
17th June, 2014 @ 05:55 am PDT

Too funny. I thought that, for all the trouble and radical design, the rider's bobbing motion would be used to drive the rear wheel.

In this case, all he needs to achieve the same effect is a spring-loaded bar that attaches to the seat post (or bracket) which then arches around to the rider's back; the contact point being a padded & somewhat body-formed brace which can be disengaged and reengaged as the rider desires. The rider's will need to be able to set the tension according to their own preference or pain threshold. Staying with a seat will ensure that max force is transmitted through the legs as no rearward redirection of forces will be possible, as they would be with a simple sling.

Mirmillion
17th June, 2014 @ 06:35 am PDT

They should call it The Ball Squeezer 4000!

Fredrik Pettersen
17th June, 2014 @ 07:30 am PDT

how silly

would sell more as the DCJ-34B the "Decolletage Jiggler"

wle

" It’s worth noting that Jim Hurd, the former curator of the Bicycle Museum of America, says that at the turn of the century there were two buildings in Washington DC that held every patent in the U.S. One building held patents covering every type of product you can think of. The other building was reserved specifically for bicycle patents. It’s a manifestation of how much energy had gone into refining the bicycle and it’s the reason why it’s such a challenge for modern designers to make any sea-change improvements."

wle
17th June, 2014 @ 08:52 am PDT

also

there isn;t any need to add extra muscles to the quads

the heart/lung/oxygen can;t even fully support them in most people

this is why adding the arm muscles, for instance, doesn;t add anything

well - except for:

weight

cost, and

indignity

wle

wle
17th June, 2014 @ 09:31 am PDT

As in the article go recumbent, Way more comfy.

Ive been bent for 20 yrs and wont go back.

Al Dutcher
17th June, 2014 @ 10:17 am PDT

This is not actually the stupidest idea I have seen, that would the stupid idea (German?), where a rider is totally suspended and sort of kicks or flails at the ground while waiting for a passing car to oblige society by sideswiping the rider. This bad idea is gigantically unsafe and looks more suited to a premise for a porn movie than an actual way to get around town.

StWils
17th June, 2014 @ 10:40 am PDT

In the late 1980's, this "problem" was addressed by a very simple device. (doing this from long-ago memory, so may not be fully accurate) I believe it was called the Cinto Belt, imported from Italy. It was a belt that you put around your torso, and a cable connected to the top tube. I know it existed, but i can't find anything on the web about it.

Rex Martin
17th June, 2014 @ 12:18 pm PDT

Seems like an overly complex (and dangerous) solution to a simple problem.

To reduce energy loss on the downward pedal stroke, why not just tether one's self to the frame at the hips (and adjust saddle angle)?

Grant Duree
17th June, 2014 @ 12:54 pm PDT

The designer of this must be having regular beers with the fitz bike designer. While I must admit this isn't on the same level of impracticality or misguided engineering as the aforementioned design exercise, I can't imagine the "power gained" would be worth the extra weight, inconvenience, and biometric limitation of the harness and support--especially considering that having any kind of harnessing system around the torso/abdomen will all but guarantee decreased breathing efficiency. As for safety, I mirror earlier contributors in my concern for the ability to separate from bike during collisions. I suppose one can augment a roll cage with airbag into this design. What would be even more entertaining is if we turned this into a fixed gear.

sk8dad
17th June, 2014 @ 04:37 pm PDT

Nice concept.

But as a 'power booster' it perhaps fails the logic test? Sure, you may be able to push harder each thrust, but you have only limited reserves of power/endurance. The power currently does not go missing, it is used in thrusting the rider up in the air, ie, more potential energy for the next thrust. If you push 10% harder each thrust, you will simply run out of push sooner.

.... dang... what I am trying to say is a cyclist going up a hill moderates his energy expenditure very carefully by choice of gear and cadence, in order to ensure he gets to the top of that hill with some energy in reserve to keep going. Being able to push 10% harder is not a benefit.

Having said that, there may be something in this in regards to a more comfortable seating arrangement ... currently used bicycle seats are akin to torture devices.

Marke
17th June, 2014 @ 06:22 pm PDT

You don't get something for nothing. How do they think the 'bob' was gained in the first place? What are the stating their efficiency gains from? A piece of s%$t from kmart and a disabled rider? Have clip in pedals so you can upstroke and a helical crank and problem solved. Instead of clipping in, have a magnetic system which sense imminent danger of crashing and clips out for you?

This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen! No actually, i'll take that back. It will add value to society by providing the most hilarious fails compilations on youtube!

Aaryn Johansen
17th June, 2014 @ 08:04 pm PDT

This could only come from the mind of someone who's an "architect and engineer" but not a cyclist. He "has been awarded 15 US patents," according to his site. That's a useless factoid. How about telling us which patents he has so we can see if they're any good?

Gadgeteer
17th June, 2014 @ 09:08 pm PDT

@ Slowburn

Not his one, your going to crash and burn and probably explode, just like in the movies.

Jay Finke
18th June, 2014 @ 01:05 pm PDT

yep

AEDB syndrome

"architect / engineer" "designing bicycles"

wle

wle
18th June, 2014 @ 01:30 pm PDT

@ wle

yes a Mechanic would have called BS on this project .."it looked good on paper" said the engineer !

Jay Finke
18th June, 2014 @ 02:44 pm PDT

Makes the people riding it look like they just escaped the mental ward. I just can't believe how ridiculous these folks look hanging from that contraption. Back to the drawing board on this feeble downgrade.

Buellrider
18th June, 2014 @ 04:22 pm PDT

i'm starting to get it. the people who build these things just want publicity. for what, i don;t know. but no one would ever really expect this thing to sell, or even work. especially AFTER THEY TRIED THE @#$ing THING!

wle
19th June, 2014 @ 06:57 am PDT

Almost as bad as the Fliz. At least this one has pedals, but if you're ever in a crash that sends you flying forward, goodbye neck vertebrae.

Forward Thinker
14th July, 2014 @ 10:25 am PDT

I think they should call this The Skull Planter. Please disable the front brake, sheeesh.

Chris Jessey
20th July, 2014 @ 02:03 pm PDT

A pity there was so many negative posts,

a variation of this could be combined with an idea I had years back,

I wanted to place the pedals behind the rear wheel, (swapping the sides would allow standard components to be used, as effectively would be pedaling backwards) the legs go either side of rear wheel, like a face down recumbent, allowing the rider to push against the handlebars to stop them moving away from pedals. I was trying to support the rider from below, which I failed to resolve.

the advantage of more streamlined position, easy visibility, and more weight transferring to pedals as gradient increased.

your hanging the rider over a standard set up, doesn't gain much, as standing on the pedals is already possible, a pad to stop vertical rise, ie something to push against, could well increase power available.

Alan Gladwin
18th October, 2014 @ 10:14 am PDT
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