Needed: SpringBike

19Dec09

I was going to send this idea to MIT’s Senseable City lab, but couldn’t find the contact info.  So here it is instead.

They’re working on an electric bicycle that saves the energy that would otherwise be wasted when you stop the bike.  It stores that energy to a battery that powers a motor.  But it seems like you should be able to accomplish the same thing mechanically.

Example:  bike frames are made of tubes.  On the traditional men’s bike, there is a flat top tube.  Inside that top tube, you put a hydraulic device, a weight or something, that slides forward against some compressible substance (e.g., a spring, or a gas) when you stop the bike.  So the energy of stopping is saved inside the tube.

Problem:  that saves only the energy associated with stopping the weight, as distinct from stopping the whole bike and its rider.  But what if you put a similar device inside a modified front fork, so that the energy involved in stopping everything back of that – that is, the rider and most of the bike – is saved there?  Then release that energy to a front gear, with a governor that keeps it from just spinning the front tire.

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