Monday, May 08, 2006

Exercise Go-Kart

Ok - this is recumbent bicycle part II. I thought, since recumbents are so bad at climbing hills because you don't have the weight of your body to assist, why not get the rest of your body into the act? I've been doing weights at the gym to work on my upper body, what if I could do the same thing outside while moving somewhere?

The basic idea is that you harness your upper body to drive the bike, in addition to your legs. I think this calls for 2 things:
  • Recumbent sitting position, so your upper body is upright as it would be at a gym.
  • 3 or 4 wheels so balance is no longer an issue. If you're going to be flailing all your limbs, I don't think balance is going to happen.
I envision either a tadpole trike (2 wheels at front, 1 at rear), or a 4-wheeler, with the rider seated in the middle. Standard bike pedals in front. 2 handles extend upwards from the bike to the rider's hands, at about chest height. (Think ski poles). By moving these handles back and forth, the rider adds power to their pedaling. The actual motion could be varied - one possible motion would be a ski-pole like motion such as you see on an elliptiglider at the gym. Another would be more of a rowing motion, whereby the handles are both forward or both backward at the same time.

The handles are hooked into the drive train via a standard crank mechanism. For the rowing motion, I would think you'd want to gear the handles down, so the row motion is about half the speed of the pedaling motion, otherwise you'll look like a silent movie of a gandy dancer railroad car.

The main challenge is going to be the steering. Since you're not on 2 wheels, you can't have lean steering. Perhaps the handles could move side-to-side as well for steering - I'm not sure how well that would work - could you provide power from your hands and steer at the same time?

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