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Shuttle-Bike - convert a bike to a pedal-power boat

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June 4, 2004

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Italian engineering company SBK Engineering has produced an innovative backpack which converts a bicycle into a water-bike within 10 minutes, enabling off-road trekking without water-barriers, or an entirely new way of seeing cities with water/canal systems such as Venice or Amsterdam. The SHUTTLE-BIKE project began in 1992 in Vigevano, Italy, near Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci spent many years working on his inventions. The ultimate goal of the project was to create an inflatable "bicycle boat"--or a "shuttle"-- that would be easy to carry and allow a bicyclist the opportunity to ride across water as well as on land. With the weight of the entire back-pack now down to 11 kilograms, a top speed of 10kmh on the water, and a prep time of under 10 minutes without the need for any tools, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has prospered.

Italian engineering company SBK Engineering has produced an innovative backpack which converts a bicycle into a water-bike within 10 minutes, enabling off-road trekking without water-barriers, or an entirely new way of seeing cities with water/canal systems such as Venice or Amsterdam. The SHUTTLE-BIKE project began in 1992 in Vigevano, Italy, near Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci spent many years working on his inventions.

The ultimate goal of the project was to create an inflatable "bicycle boat"--or a "shuttle"-- that would be easy to carry and allow a bicyclist the opportunity to ride across water as well as on land. With the weight of the entire back-pack now down to 11 kilograms, a top speed of 10kmh on the water, and a prep time of under 10 minutes without the need for any tools, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has prospered.

From those beginnings a decade ago, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has become much more than its original conception. It is now used in both Europe and America in a variety of commercial and leisure roles: for resort rental (with permanent urethane-filled floats), along with ship-to-shore tender usage and search-and-rescue duties in addition to the logical exercise and fitness, leisure and personal exploration.

Probably the biggest strength of the SHUTTLE-BIKE is it's portability--no other pedal powered watercraft is truly amphibious and as lightweight and compact. The SHUTTLE-BIKE will carry a load of 125 kilograms safely, but in rescue conditions can be expected to carry 200 kilograms plus.

The SHUTTLE-BIKE kit adapts to almost any bike with round frame tubes with a set of universal clamps. Permanently fastened on the frame, they do not hinder the use of the mountain-bike on the road. The permanent clamp accessories are designed to lock onto the SHUTTLE-BIKE frame without using any tools--the whole kit snaps together, tightens and inflates by hand and pedal-power in about 10 minutes.

The floats can be blown up by means of a small pump which enables you to utilize pedal-power rather than lung-power to inflate the floats by pedalling on the spot, since the frame suspends the rear wheel a few centimetres above the ground, so it works much like an exercise bike.

The propulsion system begins with a pivoting roller/gear mechanism that attaches to the frame and adjusts to contact the rear wheel when the bike is used on the water. From there the power is transferred by means of a flexible drive shaft to the gear/propeller/rudder assembly attached to the front wheel.

The propeller/rudder allows you to steer with the handlebars--you can do a 360' turn in place by turning the handlebar 90' in either direction! Since the drive roller contacts the rear wheel, the bike's gears can be used to achieve the best cruising or speed combinations.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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