In light of all of the depressing news related to Lance Armstrong, here’s some rather interesting news from the world of human power transport, the development of the velomobile that won the 2012 World Human Powered Speed Challenge last month.
The Velox 2, developed by students from the Delft University of Technology and VU University Amsterdam, along with materials company DSM, won the challenge by hitting a top speed of 128 km/h, a.k.a., 79.54 mph. That’s right: nearly 80 mph on a bike. A bike they had to pedal.
From the developmental point of view, the bike was surrounded by a light, self-supporting shell made with a polyester resin composed of 55% bio-renewable raw material, Palapreg ECO P55-01.
The chains and sprockets, components that might have otherwise been made of steel, were produced with Stanyl, a high-performance polyamide 46. Not only are the components lighter than their metal counterparts, but they move with less friction and don’t require oil lubrication.
The Human Power Team also used DSM Somos stereolithography materials for the development of structural components for the Velox 2, including the camera casing and air inlets.
As these events rarely run smoothly, it is worth noting that during an early run, the canopy of the Velox 2 was punctured, and as the rider was traveling at nearly 120 km/h, the buffeting caused a loss of control, and there was a subsequent crash in the Nevada desert, where the World Human Powered Speed Challenge was run. But the shell absorbed the impact, the rider was unharmed.