a new year for the ZIPcycle...

Happy new year!  Here's to finishing the prototype this year.  The extremely slow printing process of the working prototype continues.  Once the remaining pieces of the seat are printed, I will be disassembling the hexagonal tiles and laminating each tile to the next with carbon tape and epoxy.  The two laminated mirrored ABS and carbon sections of the tailbox will serve as a working test component and ultimately a plug for casting future pieces.  Thank you for your continued support and interest in the project, I wish you the very best and productive of new years!

Full scale 3D printed tailbox, with scale model of complete tailbox in foreground.  Scaled chassis and handlebar components bottom right.

ZIPcycle, an update...

Fabrication has begun on the first working prototype.  Utilizing a Makerbot Replicator 2X, I am printing the molds, hexagonal tile by hexagonal tile.  While this approach is painfully slow, it is nonetheless quite cost effective and precise.  I am not going to delve into the details now, but my approach has had a massive reboot since its last iteration, based on analysis in the digital wind tunnel and an overall rethink on approach to assembly and construction.  Below is a snapshot of the prototype in progress, while it is safe to say that tunneling out of prison with a plastic utensil may be quicker, the ZIPcycle is truly on its way to becoming a reality.  Again, thank you for your support and interest in my project, I will continue to update the blog with photos of the process.

ZipCycle_Print.jpg

Support the ZIPcycle; join my IndieGOGO campaign

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zipcycle-the-next-evolution-of-the-bicycle

After months and months of revision, followed by another seemingly endless period of rendering, diagraming, and write-ups; I have launched my campaign!  Please take a moment, follow the link above, and become a noble supporter of the future of active transit.  You have my deepest gratitude!

ZIPcycle, side view

ZIPcycle, side view

A special thanks to Tracey Bascue, Chris Brown, Don Paine, and Emily Terrell for editorial, scripting, and design critique contributions to the project!

form finding, the SEPALtable

Seeking only to transform an metaphoric uncured plane of carbon fiber into a load bearing form, the SEPALchair and SEPALtable utilize matching language of stress resolution commonly found in the stiffened planes of plant structures to resolve two dramatically different functions, the chair and table.  Following is a sequence of photos illustrating the transition of the table from a plane to resolved form.

a plane bound at the edges and released at the corners

a plane bound at the edges and released at the corners

lateral force forming ripples in the plane

lateral force forming ripples in the plane

additive pressure creating displacement in the table plane

additive pressure creating displacement in the table plane

increased deflection of table plane and reflection of pressure at central beam

increased deflection of table plane and reflection of pressure at central beam

force deepening central and diagonal spine

force deepening central and diagonal spine

force exiting through released corners extending legs

force exiting through released corners extending legs

force driven form

force driven form

ZIPcycle an introduction

To put this project in context, I must first describe my larger goal.  My focus is on advancing the potential of active transit systems.  To create a system that reduces travel time and increases the safety and well-being of the patron; the challenge is both in the design of the vehicles and the infrastructure.  The latter is the subject of a book I am working on, the focus of this post is on the vehicle.  For the time being, let me at least say, one cannot exist without the other.

development sketch of recumbent bicycle with fairing

development sketch of recumbent bicycle with fairing

The intent of this study is the development bicycle that can double the average cruising speed of the standard bicycle.  Given that the standard cruising speed of normal cyclist is around 12 mph, attaining a cruising speed of 24 mph is somewhat attainable (elite cyclists can average this or greater cruising speeds for extended periods of time).  The most straight forward means of increasing velocity is through aerodynamics.  The astonishing feats of speed, on human power alone, at Battle Mountain are a testament to this principle (http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/whpsc2009/speedchallenge-2009.htm).  Shifting the human form into a reclined position is the most efficient means of optimizing the aerodynamics of the human form.  Thus, my design focus has been on the refinement of the recumbent bicycle.

fluid dynamic analysis of an preliminary concept

fluid dynamic analysis of an preliminary concept

Before digressing at length on the details of aerodynamics and the mechanics involved in my work, I should first explain some of the more practical challenges that must be addressed.  First and foremost is cost.  To be effective, an active transit system must be accessible to all people.  Therefore establishing the ZIPcycle as a sharing program is key.  The price of a ZIPcycle would be comparable to a high end racing bike, precluding private ownership from the masses.  If this cost were to be amortized over much larger group of people, i.e. members of a ZIPcycle sharing program, it would become an affordable public mode of transit.  Advertising could also play a significant role in cutting costs, as proven by the Citi Bike system set to open in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (http://citibikenyc.com).

form study shown without components or wheels

form study shown without components or wheels

Beyond the aesthetic appeal of any concept, the most critical aspect of this design exploration is safety.  Most issues of safety associated with the ZIPcycle find resolution in the dedicated separation of pedestrians, motor vehicles, and bicycles.  In fact most issues of safety find resolution in the design and detailing of the infrastructure.  That being said, the ZIPcycle must be stable at high speeds, adjustable and comfortable for a variety of body types, and as 'easy' to ride as a standard bicycle.

silhouette of preliminary concept

silhouette of preliminary concept

Currently we have many issues to face as a society.  As obesity rates soar, providing attractive opportunities for exercise, may be our best hope for battling the epidemic of diseases associated with the sedentary lifestyle.  Transit systems across the globe are surpassing capacity while infrastructure budgets dwindle.  As urban centers become more and more dense, we must find ways to improve our experiential quality of life.  While only being a singular element in a larger system to effect positive change and economic well-being, the effects of implementing active transit systems, and in this instance rapid active transit systems, can prove immeasurable.

current scheme, airbrushed to show components behind monocoque chasis

current scheme, airbrushed to show components behind monocoque chasis