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Is the Sideways bike the big idea?


November 12, 2006

Michael and his Sideways Bike

Michael and his Sideways Bike

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November 13, 2006 We’ve written about the sideways bike and its delightfully eccentric Dublin (Ireland) inventor Michael Killian before, and the response was so great that we thought our UK-based readers might like the opportunity to see plugging his invention on Sky One's The Big Idea TV show in a bid to win UKP100,000 next Saturday (November 18 at 9pm). The new prime-time series aims to discover the next great British/Irish invention or business idea. The bicycle is the world's best selling form of transport with 100 million sold each year – twice the number of cars sold - so a profitable niche market might exist for the more creative among us. Michael’s premise in building the sideways bike is that Left-Right balance is the most familiar and primary balance used for riding a conventional bicycle. Front-Back balance has little visual input and is the primary balance used in riding a surfboard, windsurfer and snowboard. Front-Back balance is a finer instrument than Left-Right balance and offers a greater degree of artistic freedom e.g. skiing (Left-Right balance) is faster than snowboarding (Front-Back balance), however people prefer to snowboard because of the greater artistic expression.

Human balance is detected in the inner ear. There are three semi-circular canals positioned at right angles to each other that detect balance in three axes. These canals are separate and distinct. The three types of balance are Left to Right, Front to Back and Rotational (Yaw). Left to Right balance is what people are most familiar with and is the primary balance used for riding a regular bicycle or indeed flying a plane. In the case of flying a plane there is a visual supplement to left to right balance provided by the observation of the horizon line. Front to Back balance has very little visual input and is the primary balance used in riding a surfboard, windsurfer and snowboard. Front to Back balance is a finer instrument than Left to Right balance and offers a greater degree of artistic feedback. This is evidenced by the difference between skiing and snowboarding. Skiing (Left to Right balance) is faster than Snowboarding (Front to Back balance); however people like to snowboard because of the greater artistic expression.

The sideways bicycle is ridden sideways and is balanced by using human Front to Back balance. It also has front and rear wheel steering.

So far in the show, Michael has beaten hundreds of competitors to make it to the final 36, and is up against five other inventors for a spot in the final. In order to get to the semi-final he had to pitch his idea to three entrepreneurs in two minutes. All three experts, Ruth Badger, a finalist on BBC 2's The Apprentice, Lord Karan Bilimoria of Cobra Beer fame and Craig Johnston, who invented the Predator football boot, put him on the shortlisted 36.

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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