May 16, 2005 To look at the Pump-a-bike, you’d swear it would sink the moment it hit the water. Not so, indeed, with a bit of practice, the human powered hydrofoil is capable of nearly 20 miles per hour – not that much shy of the world record for human powered watercraft . To make it work, all you need to do is jump up and down. Given some time to coordinate the movements and gain a degree of mastery, the Pump-a-bike can even be used in surf to ride waves.
Designed by Zimbabwean inventor Mike Puzey, the Pump-a-bike has been under development for eight years and the final commercially available design, just released in South Africa, is the 70th iteration of the design – yes, 70 prototypes were built before the design was put into production.
Construction of the Pump-a-bike is of plastic and aluminium, and the whole thing comes to bits and weighs just 14 kilograms when folded into its small carry bag. In the water, the Pump-a-bike floats when you are off the bike.
Pump-a-bike’s Alex Lenearts told Gizmag, “human powered hydrofoils have been around some time.” “Mike has been able simply to develop the product far more than previous attempts and been able to put together a commercially viable product available to the masses that is easy to use and transport.”
“Pump-a-bike has patents covering the design of one or more hydrofoils producing both lift and thrust”, said Leanearts.
“To date the only country the Pumpabike has officially been launched and sold in is South Africa, though we are now expanding and seeking distribution partners in international markets.” Lenearts can be contacted via the official web site.
The Pump-a-bike has a retail price around US$1000 including the starting stand.
There is currently an interesting human powered hydrofoil project underway at the University of Illinois that is attempting to top 23 mph and claim the speed record for this type of craft.