A group of five students from the University of Pennsylvania have quite possibly created the world’s most technologically advanced bicycle. Over the course of a year, this genius crew engineered and fabricated the Alpha bike, including all of its integrated electronic systems. The resulting design may look quite similar to market available high performance cycles, but hidden within the extra-strength frame, there is actually an internalized three-speed drive train, braking system, and high-tech electronics powered entirely by the bike’s motion.
Alpha’s streamlined appearance was achieved by minimizing the gear and drive mechanisms using custom machined aluminum fittings. Not only does the system allow for stellar performance, the smaller size allows it to hide inside the frame and become protected from the elements. This equates to less maintenance, and a longer life for the fragile components.
The frame is constructed primarily from carbon fiber tubes, creating a strong, lightweight frame that is able to hold extreme loads. These tubes were joined with intricate, machined aluminum lugs. Check out the video below to see exactly how the parts fit together to create this incredible work of precision machinery.
Also hidden within the frame is a sophisticated electronic motoring system powered by the cycle’s motion. Wiring from the drive train is routed to a handle bar mounted LCD screen, allowing the rider to electronically switch the bike between a fixed-gear system and free wheeling modes. The screen also shows distance, speed, cadence, and has the ability to save the ride information on a removable SD card. For added safety, rear integrated LEDs light the roadway. The power for all of these complex systems is generated by the rotation of the front wheel, which includes a drum brake and a dynamo that charge two super capacitors. In order to keep the whole system in tune, suite of sensors and micro-controllers are placed throughout.