Bicycles

Flying Rider bike hangs the rider for more power

Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype
Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype
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Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype
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Hangin' out on the Flying Rider prototype
The Flying Rider is claimed to increase pedaling power
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The Flying Rider is claimed to increase pedaling power
The prototype is built around a 1988 Schwinn road bike
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The prototype is built around a 1988 Schwinn road bike
When the rider goes to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down
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When the rider goes to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down
Schwartz claims that the harness is more comfortable than a saddle
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Schwartz claims that the harness is more comfortable than a saddle

When architect and engineer David Schwartz was watching an uphill section of the 2011 Tour de France, he noticed that the riders' bodies were bobbing up and down as they pedaled. If only their backs had something to push against, he figured, that vertical motion could be converted into increased leverage on the pedals. The result is his proof-of-concept Flying Rider prototype bike.

Superficially reminiscent of the Fliz bike, the Flying Rider started out as a standard 1988 Schwinn road bike. Its seat tube and top tube have been removed, however, to be replaced with an arrangement of steel tubing that arches up over the rider's back. In what is no doubt the bike's most bizarre feature, the rider is suspended in a harness that hangs down from those tubes.

When they go to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down. According to Schwartz, this results in a pedaling efficiency gain of around 10 percent for a 170-lb (77-kg) rider.

The prototype is built around a 1988 Schwinn road bike
The prototype is built around a 1988 Schwinn road bike

Recumbent bicycles are claimed to offer a similar advantage, in that the rider can push off against the seatback while pedaling – it's sort of like the difference between trying to push a fridge across the floor while simply standing next to it in the open, or standing next to it while bracing your back against a wall.

There are also tethers that can be purchased for use on regular bicycles, that loop around the rider's lower back and attach to the top tube. The idea is that as with the Flying Rider, they will hold the rider down and concentrate their power on the pedals. Their effectiveness is definitely a matter of debate, however.

When the rider goes to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down
When the rider goes to hammer on the pedals in a sprint or a climb, their back meets a sort of "cage" that holds them down

While his current prototype might look a little ... odd, Schwartz is working on a purpose-built carbon fiber version which he hopes to have ready for the Interbike trade show in September. He welcomes inquiries from manufacturers wishing to license the design.

And perhaps you're wondering, is it comfortable? "We've tried two mountaineering harnesses from REI and also one custom-made leather weight lifter's belt," he told us. "None of them are perfect, but all of them are better for me than a seat ... I'm thinking that an athletic body-wear designer should rethink a hang glider-type harness for this bike."

Source: Flying Rider

27 comments
Bintz Shin
I agree with the developer about the possibility of More Power as an uphill machine.
Slowburn
I like being able to kick free of the bike if say the front rim fails.
SamB
At least your bike won't get stolen.
Stuart Wilshaw
Just what you need if the bike falls over at speed, stuck in the frame!
Jeff Rosati
There could be an entire website dedicated to failed bicycle inventions.
Mirmillion
Too funny. I thought that, for all the trouble and radical design, the rider's bobbing motion would be used to drive the rear wheel. In this case, all he needs to achieve the same effect is a spring-loaded bar that attaches to the seat post (or bracket) which then arches around to the rider's back; the contact point being a padded & somewhat body-formed brace which can be disengaged and reengaged as the rider desires. The rider's will need to be able to set the tension according to their own preference or pain threshold. Staying with a seat will ensure that max force is transmitted through the legs as no rearward redirection of forces will be possible, as they would be with a simple sling.
Fredrik Pettersen
They should call it The Ball Squeezer 4000!
wle
how silly would sell more as the DCJ-34B the "Decolletage Jiggler" wle " It’s worth noting that Jim Hurd, the former curator of the Bicycle Museum of America, says that at the turn of the century there were two buildings in Washington DC that held every patent in the U.S. One building held patents covering every type of product you can think of. The other building was reserved specifically for bicycle patents. It’s a manifestation of how much energy had gone into refining the bicycle and it’s the reason why it’s such a challenge for modern designers to make any sea-change improvements."
wle
also there isn;t any need to add extra muscles to the quads the heart/lung/oxygen can;t even fully support them in most people this is why adding the arm muscles, for instance, doesn;t add anything well - except for: weight cost, and indignity wle
Al Dutcher
As in the article go recumbent, Way more comfy. Ive been bent for 20 yrs and wont go back.
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