A team of students at the University of Liverpool are about to begin testing what they hope will be the fastest man powered bike on the planet - using 30 volunteers to find the perfect pilot.
The team of engineers hope to beat the current speed record for a human-powered vehicle which currently stands at 83.13mph. The team hope to beat this by as much as 7 per cent.
Patrick Harper, lead ergonomics engineer and commercial manager of the University of Liverpool’s Velocipede Team (ULV), told the Liverpool Echo: “We’re looking for our engine, someone who can power our machine.
“Ideally it would be someone with a small body and powerful legs, but finding someone like that is very difficult.
“We’ll be taking measurements of them all, making sure of their height and the width of their hips and their shoulders because we will be tailoring the bike around them.”
The testing regime for the volunteers includes a Peak Power test, followed by a Wingate test and then a Ramp test, in which the exercise bike’s resistance is increased across a 15-20 minute period.
One or two riders will be chosen from a shortlist to accompany the bike to the World Human Power Speed Challenge (WHPSC) in Battle Mountain, Nevada in September 2015.
Patrick added: “It’s brilliant, we all love it. A couple of us worked flat out through the summer just to keep the project going because we are so passionate about it.
“We knew we would have to do that work to make sure we get there in September.”
If the eight engineering students succeed, they’ll bring the record to the UK for the first time. The current record was set in September last year by a team of students from the Delft University of Technology and VU University of Amsterdam.
“This is the first time that the University of Liverpool have attempted this exciting project and the team and I have been overwhelmed by the positive response we have received at this early stage of our journey,” said team leader Ben Hogan.
“We are extremely excited about attending the 2015 event and having the opportunity to showcase the UK’s innovation for sustainable transport on an international stage.”
ULVTeam say that the rider will be lying in a recumbent position just five inches from the ground inside a carbon-fibre shell, and will need to generate over 700 watts of power. They have partnered with Far-UK Composites, a Nottingham-based company that specialises in lightweight structural composite components, for the project.
The unusual shape that completely encloses the vehicle’s framework is, of course, designed with aerodynamics in mind. The team aren’t yet saying whether the rider will be using a windscreen or relying on a camera to see out of the shell.
Last month we reported how Scottish cycling legend Graeme Obree is working on a new version of Beastie, the bike he used for his human powered vehicle speed record attempt last September – but it will be his son, Jamie, who aims to ride it in Nevada next year and beat the prone world record of 56.62mph his father set.
Jamie went to Battle Mountain for the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) World Human Powered Speed Challenge last year, and was hoping to have a crack himself on Beastie – but his father said the bike, in which he faced forward, lying on his chest, was not stable enough, reports The Herald.
Now Obree is working on a new version of the self-built bike and hopes that his 20-year-old son, who is studying to be either a nurse or paramedic, can take his record from him.