Flywheel Hybrid Bicycle Brings F1 Tech to the Bike Lane (video)

Hybrid flywheel energy storage got off to a bit of a shaky start in Formula 1 back in 2009, but the technology is gaining ground outside the motorsports arena in production cars, utility companies, and – now – it’s found its way into bicycles!

The bike you see here has been rigged up with a 15 lb. automotive flywheel that’s mated to a CVT, which allows the rear wheel to transfer kinetic energy to the flywheel under “braking”, effectively slowing the bike down.  Once the cyclist is ready to pick up speed again, the CVT is shifted the other way, and the spinning mass of the flywheel “boosts” the rider’s legs and provides forward motion – just like the flywheel KERS systems proposed by Williams F1 (which provides flywheel hybrid tech to Porsche) and Volvo.

It’s a great concept that, once seen, is easy to understand.  Check out some close-up schematics and installation photos (below), and see for yourself!

Maxwell von Stein, a student at New York City’s Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, built the bike as part of his senior design project – and his end result is so simple in execution and concept that I’m surprised there aren’t any retail-ready flywheel hybrid bikes running around city streets today!  Until I can pop in to the local bike shop and drop some coinage on one, however, I’ll have to be content to stack Max’s flywheel bike on top of all the other “Why didn’t I think of that!” great ideas, social initiatives, and outright publicity stunts surrounding bike commuting these days … and, of course, hope that Max got an “A +” on the project.

You can see Max’s bike in action in his demonstration video, below.

Source | Photos:  Scientific American, via Gizmag.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.