Two-wheeled pioneers sought for bike constructors’ challenge

News editor

Bicycle design has always been a test of combining ingenuity with simplicity, and a new event aims to push the envelope of bespoke bike invention

Britain’s 12 cycling medals at London 2012 were a victory for UK engineering as well as athletic prowess.

Composites specialist Dimitris Katsanis was key to team GB’s cycling success at the London Olympics, as were BAE Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and Sheffield Hallam University who worked in partnership with British Cycling to develop track based measurement tools and systems to monitor the performance of our athletes.

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The Engineer has been as close to these modern developments as it has been to the Penny Farthing, Giraffe, Whippet and Hobby Horse design of two-wheeled contrivance and has since reported on everything from bikes with bamboo frames to concepts involving additive layer manufacturing to build a bike from nylon. Designers in the Czech republic have even found a way to make a flying bicycle, which can be revisited here.

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Wireless technology is finding its way into the cycling domain too with scientists in Germany developing a wireless brake and a London company bringing sensors onto the road in a bid to avert injuries and fatalities to two-wheeled travellers, some of whom may be riding the British manufacturing success story that is the Brompton.

Extraordinarily, a certain Scot named Graeme Obree set a world speed record in 2013 with Beastie, a bicycle he built and rode to 56.62mph at the World Human Speed Championships at Battle Mountain in Nevada.

Obree’s spirit of invention is being invoked by the organisers of the Bespoked Constructors’ Challenge, an event taking place next year that aims to ‘broaden and diversify the appeal of bespoke bicycles’.

Five teams are being sought to design, make, build and ride bespoke bicycles and entries must be submitted by October 31, 2014.

Bespoked, the UK Handmade Bicycle Show, say: ‘While sport cycling is enjoying great attention from the press at present, the Constructors’ Challenge will highlight how bicycles have been used traditionally for quick, easy, efficient transport – ideal for modern towns and cities.

‘Bespoke bicycles are not limited to top-end road or mountain bikes, this event will demonstrate the diversity of possible uses for this simple and adaptable machine – and that they form a viable alternative to the car for regular work and daily life.’

Further details and an application form can be found here.

The successful entrants will likely have had a moment in their lives when they became aware of the joys and possibilities brought about by applying an idea and bringing it to life in 3D form.

The organisers of Engineer Your Future hope to similarly inspire youngsters to think like an engineer at a free interactive exhibition opening at the Science Museum this December.

Publicity material states: ‘Engineer Your Future…will put visitors’ problem solving skills to the test, exploring engineering through large-scale, high quality interactive games and digital experiences that bring to life the skills engineers use every day.

‘Visitors will discover some of the fascinating stories of women and men who work in engineering today, with striking objects and an accompanying film illustrating cutting-edge engineering and exploring how engineers design, improve and test their ideas.

‘The exhibition’s approach draws on recent Royal Academy of Engineering research into how engineers think, and gives visitors the chance to see, experience and develop engineering skills for themselves, including adaptation, creative problem solving and systems thinking.’

The exhibition is part of the Science Museum’s efforts to support the Your Life campaign, which aims to increase the number of young people studying maths and physics.