Has a group of five UPenn engineering students invented the most high tech bike in the world? You be the judge.
Editor's Note: May is National Bike Month! To celebrate, we'll be posting about the crispest, greenest bikes and bike accessories on the market. If you've got suggestions about what we should feature, tell us here.
In some communities, bikes have become more than just a toy for kids or a way to get to the park on a Sunday afternoon--they've become a way of life with a cult following.
Since we tend to err on the geekier side of things here at CrispGreen, we decided to kick off our tribute to bike month with the geekiest bike of them all...The Alpha Bike.
Unlike other bikes, the Alpha was created by five engineering students as a final project that would push the boundaries of integrated systems.
The Alpha is the first bicycle with a fully internal drivetrain including an electronically-controlled clutch allowing the rider to switch between fixed-gear and freewheeling configurations (amazing!).
All of the bike’s components, including a belt drive, brakes, and an onboard electronics suite, are housed inside the custom-machined frame. Alpha weighs just 28 pounds, less than a regular steel-frame bicycle and can withstand loadings far beyond normal riding.
The front hub houses a drum brake and a dynamo which generates power for the onboard electronics. Rotation of the front wheel illuminates the integrated rear LEDs and charges two 120 Farad super capacitors. These capacitors power a 6-DOF inertial-measurement unit, a clutch sensor, and two hall effect sensors, which provide cadence and wheel speed. An LCD screen shows useful real-time data to the rider. Additional data, which can be used to analyze bike dynamics post-ride, is stored on an SD card that is easily accessible from beneath the handlebars.
Alpha isn't available on the market yet, but with over 30 heavy-weight sponsors and partners, it's destined to be at the top of geek-cyclist wish lists in the very near future.