Bicycles

Retractable sail could give bikes a boost of wind power

The CycleWing is presently on Kickstarter
The CycleWing is presently on Kickstarter
View 3 Images
Mounted like a rear rack, the CycleWing stays folded down and covered when not in use
1/3
Mounted like a rear rack, the CycleWing stays folded down and covered when not in use
The CycleWing is presently on Kickstarter
2/3
The CycleWing is presently on Kickstarter
Two handlebar-mounted buttons are used to rotate the CycleWing to either side, in order to better catch the wind
3/3
Two handlebar-mounted buttons are used to rotate the CycleWing to either side, in order to better catch the wind

Although there's nothing like cycling with a good tailwind, your bike and your body are only capable of catching a limited amount of that wind. The CycleWing was designed to help, acting as – you guessed it – a sail for your bike.

Developed by software engineer Jorge Pando and mechanical engineer Nathan Rose, the CycleWing isn't intended for use on crowded city streets. That would just be crazy. The idea is more that touring cyclists could use it while cruising for long distances along country roads, potentially saving them a considerable amount of effort.

Mounted like a rear rack, the sail and mast stay folded down and covered when not in use. Once riders want to get going – and if the wind is coming somewhere from behind – they manually set the CycleWing up within a few minutes.

Two handlebar-mounted buttons are used to rotate the CycleWing to either side, in order to better catch the wind
Two handlebar-mounted buttons are used to rotate the CycleWing to either side, in order to better catch the wind

As they subsequently pedal, riders use two handlebar-mounted buttons to rotate the sail to either side, in order to better catch the wind. A bar-mounted e-paper screen displays the angle to which the sail is currently set, along with the remaining battery life of the motor that rotates it.

Although it's still in rough prototype form, plans call for the finished product to be made from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, tipping the scales at less than 15 lb (6.8 kg).

And should you be interested, the CycleWing is presently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of US$500 (30 to 40 percent off the estimated retail price) will get you one, when and if it reaches production.

Source: Kickstarter

15 comments
joeblake
I get the same effect when I'm cycling whilst wearing a rain cloak. I just grab the edge of the cloak and hold out my arm and the wind drives me along. My best was about 5 km without pedalling at all.
VincentWolf
Stupid idea and a good way to get hurt. Along comes a nice wind gusts at a different angle and poof down goes the biker possibly into traffic. For sure if I ever saw one along the highway in a bike lane I would literally turn around and head the other direction !!
paul314
Not to diss this sweet idea, but haven't fairly simple non-motor methods for adjusting sails been around for rather a while? It would be interesting to see how close to the wind you could pedal and still get a useful effect -- probably much past 90 degrees and no.
Malatrope
The first gust from the side will knock you over. This is a dumb concept.
highlandboy
Having tried a similar but low tech solution in my late teens the idea definitely has appeal. However the following issues need to be addressed. Unless the wind comes directly from astern (behind) there is always a lateral pressure. So you end up leaning into the wind to hold your balance. Depending on the variability of the wind this results in taking a winding path. When gusts are strong the result is an out of control bike. There is a reason land sailers have 3 wheels. Even though you balance them on 2 wheels, you have the option to spill wind and come back down on all 3 wheels.
SamB
Now I may not be a genius but ..... c'mon! There should be a burden of proof for kickstarter projects that a prototype can indeed function in a practical and useful manner. The next point is that surely a touring e-bike is going to be easier to live with and more practical. Anyway, good luck to all involved. Can't wait to see the videos of real world usage.
Nobody
I have never understood bicyclers. They will spend thousands of dollars to get a bike that is five pounds lighter but claim they are doing it for the exercise. If you want exercise then get a heavier bike. One with a concrete frame and weighs about 200 lbs. should be perfect. Real men add weight to their workout instead of reducing it. When was the last time you heard a body builder bench 5 lbs. less and brag about it?
possum1
That thing should make it real interesting when an 18 wheeler goes howling by !
Grunchy
15 pounds eh.
Brian M
Nothing new here - something kids have been doing for years - Have the scars to prove it!
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.