Lo Rider - cycle By Jannie Muller

Pledgeme projects

About Lo Rider - cycle

Project 2013-01-23 00:31:09 +1300

Birth of the Lo-Rider. Idea to prototype.

I wanted to design a bicycle initially from bamboo, the goal was to create a bicycle from sustainable material readily available in order to make the bicycle strong and cheap as possible in order for it to be used and serviced by many people, and parts replaced when needed. The target group was mostly lower income South Africans relying on taxis and who commute by foot most of the time. 

I would have gone to companies and asked them to sponsor a number of bicycles for a community but instead life moved me to Australia… 

Whilst in Australia my goal changed a bit, I found bicycle commuting is very common, mostly due to wide roads, dedicated bicycle lanes and probably the relaxed nature of the Gold Coast and most of all, the Australian flatness but then I answered the call from New Zealand

While in New Zealand I considered commuting by bicycle. New Zealand has many more hills than in Australia but several other factors stood in my way. 

  1. I lived 30km away from the city.
  • Slowness, with reasonable fitness a bicycle can be peddled up to 30km/h on a level road. Thus it will take me an hour to get to work. Even If I get up at 6am I still have to take the time to shower at work and I also have to manage toiletries and fresh clothes on the bike whilst trying to reduce the drag on the additional baggage. 
  • During my drive I would be exposed to the elements.
    •  In New Zealand this could be wind and rain from all sides. Since in this tip of the hemisphere it is also pitch dark that time of the morning and evening and thus the bike needs to have adequate lighting both for me and lighting to ensure my visibility to other road users.
  • The safety of a bicycle is a problem. 
    • If in the unlikely event of an accident I could fall off my bicycle and potentially end up under a car. I only have a helmet and gloves for safety. The separation between me and the tar is mainly cloth and reinforced padding. 
  • It’s uncomfortable to sit on a bicycle seat. 
    • There is friction between your thighs and the seat not to mention the sensitive area right between the cheeks. In order to achieve proper aerodynamics you also have to lean forward on a bicycle which puts strain on the back. You also rely on moving body weight to the center of the bicycle and support this weight with your arms. 

    In order to overcome the above I had to fundamentally change the bicycle and that's what I did!

    The Lo-Rider design.

    My design is different than other tri-cycle \ sitting or row bicycles on the market (available through google search). Although in different shapes and sizes they normally use the same circular motion to produce force. This is the fundamental area I have changed. Some designs in row bikes have only two wheels and with a rowing motion the center of gravity moves around and it is difficult to balance at low speeds.

    Although the Lo-Rider is a low profile bike similar to what have been seen the force design is unique, with the production of additional force this provides greater speeds and a comfortable, safe journey. This is why I believe it's a serious challenge to our current way of commuting.

    The current design behind force.

    A bicycle is powered by means of pedals connected on opposite sides of a drive gear. The gear is connected to rear wheel gear hub with a chain. Both of these gears could have ratios which accounts for different speed vs. torque.

    The gear is powered by a cyclist leg pushed against the pedal in a circular motion whilst sitting on a seat. The cyclist push the pedal in a downwards circular motion by extending his leg. Without specialized shoes that clips into the pedal the pedal is subjected to the force of the leg only during the downwards push(B) in the figure.  As the pedal is pushed down the force completes and then the opposite pedal reaches the top. Finally the pushed pedal is now at the bottom furthest away from the leg. The drive gear has made half a revolution at this point.

    The completion of the cycle happens as the opposite pedal is subjected to the opposite leg of the cyclist and is the pushed for the last half of the revolution in order complete one full revolution of the drive gear.

    During the revolution the toothed drive gear would have pulled the chain around the circumference if the drive gear. In the bicycle I used as the sample which is a large mountain \ road bicycle hybrid the drive gear circumference is 56cm.

    We can deduce that one revolution equates to 56cm of linear movement. It took 2 half revolutions to produce this. The 56cm linear movement will be enacted on the smallest hub gear due to this revolution.  When a pedal is pushed down the leg has to be lifted up before it can be pressed down again, I call this a context switch, it’s required in order to get back to a “zero” point of initiation where the pedal can be pushed down again.

    My design

    I set out to find a way by which the human body can generate the largest, strongest possible linear movement in a single movement. The human leg is on average 45% of the body length. This is the longest limb that can be extended to produce the most force with the least amount of context switching. If we use the same mechanism as the current bicycle i.e. circular we can half this figure. Thus a direct linear system was to be used. I also believe that a
    linear leg extension has a greater sweet spot than the 180 degree half revolution of a push down pedal. Where less force would be generated between the 170 degree angle and 90 degrees.

    By sitting on a bicycle seat you are limited by the amount of “down force” a leg can produce. This is why you frequently see cyclists stand and peddle to produce more force. In order to overcome the mentioned a linear system had to be combined with the sitting position.

    This guided me into the “lateral squat” position.

    The lateral squat allows for the maximum leg extension and because of the sitting position supported by a chair-back there is no need to stand in order to produce more force.

    By using the lateral squat position it also employs many muscles. Similar to gym equipment the pedal is fitted to a bolt which is guided by a pedal slit on either ends of the bolt. 

    By using gym equipment athletes can squat many times their own body weight. The guide also ensures a linear movement with no loss of energy due to trying to balance.

    Since the sitting position with the lateral squat frees up the upper body I could also employ
    this for the production of additional force. 

    Due to the decoupling of the pedals, i.e. you don’t have to make turns between left leg,
    right leg, left leg pedal push it allowed for the use of dual independent drive
    chains. This is in order that you could choose to pedal by making turns between
    legs or alternatively you can push both legs at the same time. This however created a requirement for the pedal to get back to “zero” initiation point. In the circular single gear this
    was achieved by the opposite leg that brought the opposite pedal back to point
    “zero”.  I used a bungee cord with minimum tension to pull the pedal back to “zero” from which it can be pushed again.

    As mentioned above the upper body was freed up due to removing the major use for balancing and steering. With the independent dual chain being conducive to pedaling with both feet at the same time or making turns it also allowed for a rowing mechanism to be integrated.

    This is achieved by two pulleys in the front of the frame and a rope with a handle connected to both pedals. The pulleys allow for equal pulling power to be distributed to each drive chain. Leaning forward in the seat you can grab hold of a tension suspended handle, the handle is kept out of the pedals and cables with a tensioner running from the handle to under the seat. Once you lean forward and grab hold of the handle you can engage in rowing.
    When the handle is pulled it pulls both pedals with equal force.

    The steering handles are on either side of the bicycle and since you are holding on to the rowing handle and not the steering handle you cannot steer with them. You can thus only steer by leaning to the required side. This is an accepted effect; as it is assumed that the faster you drive the less likely you are to turn on a dime.

    By using the lateral squat and a leg extension which is normally 45% of the body length even for a modest 1 meter tall person, this is 45cm. A squat can comfortable extended to 70% of
    that.  On my body length I can comfortably extend about 50cm. This is almost double of the half revolution (56/2) = 28cm. This means that a single leg extension from a lateral squat can
    produce 50cm of linear movement and both legs when making turns between left
    and right legs will produce 1m.

    This still excludes the force generated by using the upper body and the rowing mechanism. Rowing will not account for an increase in linear movement but it will increase the force of
    the pull\push since your entire body is engaged.

    Lessons learned

    Decoupling circular pedals –By doing this I had to come up with the bungee cord in order to get the pedal back to square one. Since there is a little bit of tension on the bungee cord there is a slight waste of energy here. Potentially when the free wheel turns it could be used to generate power via a dynamo for auxiliary equipment.

    Decoupling circular pedals – By doing this I also couldn’t use standard gears. This is due to the design of bicycle gears. Gears are produced for left handed bicycles. This means that the chain is always on the left side of the wheel. Since the free wheel is design to fit on the left side of the bicycle I could only purchase a BMX Sporting freewheel with no gear ratios i.e. single speed. This allowed me to flip it around and use it. The negative side is that I cannot use the thread of the free wheel but since I was welding it to the drive shaft this was not a problem for me. This is why the prototype only has a single speed with no fitment of a derailleur.

    Rowing rope – this hangs in the front of the bicycle. If you use your hands for the steering pedals and you push the pedals forward it generates slack on the rowing rope. If the slack is too long it dangles into the pedals or the ground and gets in the way. This requires a bungee cord with the same tension as the one used to bring the pedals back to point “zero” to keep it out of the way, if they are not the same tension the pedals are pulled forward without actually pushing it with your legs. The rope is connected from the top of the steering down to the seat. As you push the pedals tension is kept on the rowing rope and it’s out of the way for your legs and off the ground.

    Single Wheel at the back – The first prototype had only a single wheel at the back. This allowed for the rear gear axle to be simpler but balancing was difficult. This is due to the long frame that flexes and limited steering. In a bicycle steering is used for balancing perhaps more so as opposed to steering at lower speeds. This can be seen as a cyclist waits at a traffic light for a light to go green. While completely stationary he can balance by moving the steering wheel, the same effect can be seen on monocycles in the circus where the rider has to shift his centre of gravity in order to balance. With the single wheel, length of the frame and seating position a person’s centre of gravity is not as flexible as on a normal bicycle. I couldn’t manage to balance with a single wheel. This could also be due to 1.8mm vs 3mm steel square tube which I used between the first and second prototype, some poor welding and minor measuring precision errors which isn’t very forgiving.

    Pedal groove\slit – This is the slit in which the pedal bolt runs. Cutting a slit into the metal significantly reduces the strength and thus I had to use 3mm steel in the 2nd prototype. Instead of slits one could potentially design runners the fits on the side beams similar to that of a roller coaster. This won’t require a slit but giving it’s a prototype I couldn’t quite achieve this.  You could also fit in tiny bearings which would reduce friction.

    Pedal to chain connection – currently the pedal is directly connection to the rope which is connected to the chain. The idea was to use material like nylon which is strong enough, doesn’t stretch and light weight. It’s slightly in the way as it currently is although doesn’t affect performance at all. The pedal could be modified with a shoe similar to that on a horses’ saddle in or to fit your foot and have the connection for the rope and chain completely out of the way. This will the also allow the pedal to swivel and be steady in order for the force to pull more directly on the rear chain.

    Steering– The current steering works with a cable connected directly to the steering fork running around the frame to steering handles.  As planned the steering is limited to a couple of degrees. However I did to a prototype of using a flat piece of aluminium as a steering rod. This did work but I ended up using the cable as it negotiated the corners of the frame better. I would prefer to combine the cable (brake wire) with a seat that’s on springs that uses leaning for steering, much like the suspension on a motorcycle. 

    Other thoughts.

    My 5 year old asked if she could ride the bike. Before I could heed caution she was on it and started to pedal, easily. She didn't fall over and she actually did a pretty good job. She was strong enough to manage the frame and to balance; I obviously had to give my 3 year old a turn as well. It wasn't as easy for her but the bike moved. I think her legs are just too short.

    Based on friction-less 3 pedals per second, 50cm linear movement and a rear gear circumference of 10cm once the drive shaft we can calculate the following. 150cm / 10cm = 10 revolutions per second. The circumference of the wheel is 2.2m , so this is 22m/s or 79km/h. The total extension I have tested is 60cm which would allow for a greater speed but I prefer pessimistic calculations to prove the feasibility.

    I have thought about using aluminium but the charge for this is more than for steel and more difficult to work with than steel. I’m potentially concerned that it also won’t be strong enough and not as rigid as steel. However I was pretty impressed by the strength using some pieces of aluminium in the first prototype.

    Any electrical wiring will be done up front and the wires will run inside the pipe. I also had the idea to run the steering cable made of brake line in the pipe but this turned out to be overly complicating the prototype.

    Vision for the future model.

    Frame – The frame is to be constructed of pipe which is stronger than the square tubing ounce for ounce. This will allow me to use thinner material.

    The frame will also have the required contacts male \ female in order to connect more than one bike to one another. This was an effect that can be achieved by the slim design and comfortable seating that the bike offers. This allows people to combine their bikes for a longer trip.As seen on the 3D drawing.

    The frame can completely be covered as a capsule allowing for excellent aerodynamics better than a standard bicycle. Due to the lower profile and different driving system this could increase speed further.

    The frame currently has a cavity under the seat and behind it. This space will be fitted with a derailleur in order to create a multi speed bicycle. This compartment can also be fitted as a “boot” in order to store a briefcase. This area can also be used to store a power generation module which allows for the powering of auxiliary equipment. This could be done via a dynamo and magnetic power generator.

    The design on this frame is conducive to the fitment of proper indicators and LED headlights which will be a welcomed feature in the bicycle market.

    The rowing rope and pedalling with both feet makes it quite a rhythmic ride. There is a requirement to add springs or a mechanism into the back shaft in order to create more flexibility in the frame to allow for leaning as an effective method of steering.

    With a slight modification of the frame it will also be able to have an adjustable seat. This will ensure personalized distance of the extension of your leg. This will allow for maximum comfort and power.

    Brakes –The brakes are fitted onto the rear wheels. A disk break would be fitted onto the rear drive shaft. This will allow central application of brake force.  There is no front breaking.

    Suspension – Adding shock absorbers will allow for better comfort and steering capabilities.

    Funding and the future

    If the pledge reaches the goal I would make a precision model of the current prototype.

    If the pledge exceeds expectations I would make a precision model of the current prototype but with a multi-speed drive shaft. It will also include better materials for the disk braking, the seat and derailleur additions. It will also include shocks.

    If the ultimate pledge is reached of greater than $10000 I would prefer to circumvent the engineering shops who declined to work on the project due to the long investment of time and the small cost. I would like to buy the required machinery and hire like minded individuals who are experts in the field to build it along with a business

    The is a long road ahead of the Lo-Rider, this is not just physically but design and budget constraints are only a part of the hiccups we can face along the way. Some countries have very regulated legislation which prevents certain modes of licensing transport for safety. There are also import regulation and taxes which undermines the financial feasibility to export to certain countries thus in some countries local production is required.

    It's much like providing fresh water in Africa.

    As much as I would personally appreciate any pledge it's the passion from individuals who will see a project through to it's end more so than a many other things.

    I got some inspiration from F.K. Day, President of http://www.worldbicyclerelief.org/ and Vice President of SRAM after some communications about the industry and this idea.

    "Hi Jannie,
    Building a real working prototype is essential.
    At SRAM we say:
    A picture is worth a thousand words
    But a prototype is worth a thousand Pictures"

    If you have managed to reach this end of the document I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read it and making a pledge Jannie



    The People Behind Lo Rider - cycle

    Picture?type=square&width=50&height=50 Jannie Muller Project admin

    I honestly believe that people are good.

    We see a lot of "not-so-good" in the world currently but that doesn't mean we are doomed. It just makes for better stories on the news.

    History would have it that way.

    We change history by what we do today, because that would be the history of tomorrow.

    Good news can also sell newspapers, in fact it can probably sell more if it was given the chance. 

    I'm not in the newspaper business! But I can make good news.

    I'm positive about change, if you look around it's happening in the nooks and crannies of the world. I'm for technology in every way and it's there to support us, I'm not going to quote spiderman's grandpa! but it would be the right place to do so.

    Nature, it's a passion because our future in science will be based on bio-mimicry. Solar panels, aerodynamics, water purification and most of all the ability to sustain ourselves and future generations with food; I'm not talking generic commerical grains here, but FOOD in capital letters in terms of variety, ancient grains & strains. Not just cash crops.

    I don't disagree that there is a place for those cash crops but not at the expense of variety and depedent eco-systems or the environment.

    Because nature in it's "purest" form is extremely potent we probably don't even need a 50/50 ratio . I wouldn't be surprized that we probably only need 20% pure farming , well designed and maintained systems to provide significant stabilize the greenhouse effect. 

    However with contaminated water, air from the 80% of modern agriculture we might need to up that 20% to keep an equilibrium or to get take back our future.

    Lawns are great in the right proportions but since it's origins as a symbol of wealth we limit ourselves to only that. Wealth at some point meant vegetables in your garden, fruit trees and berries. Oysters were once for poor people, now it's not. The world change all the time, we should too.

    Given the health benefits of locally grown food it's a good reason to grow it at home.

    Robinswood aims to tame your garden, enhance it even. Because it cannot be achieved by just talking-the-talk we also aim to change how we look and run business as a whole. Our system (the world) and the so extremely integrated and that doesn't support change without taking bigger end-to-end approaches to solutions. It's agile for business.




    Hey! Thanks for checking out this project. We haven't made any updates yet, follow us if you want to be notified when we do.


      Avatar square
      Jacques Mulder
      2013-02-07 01:29:51 +1300

      Jacques Mulder has pledged on 1 campaign

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      2013-02-04 16:05:19 +1300

      Vince has pledged on 1 campaign

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      This project was unsuccessful and finished on 07/02/2013 at 1:29 AM.