Published: 16 April 2014

Liverpool students aim to build fastest bike in history

ARION1 Concept

A team of engineering students from the University of Liverpool are attempting to create the fastest human-powered vehicle in history.

When manufactured, the ARION1 Velocipede (pictured) should be 40 times more aerodynamic than a Bugatti Veyron, with a top speed of 90mph. It will generate enough power to light the average UK home – and is entirely pedal-powered.

The University of Liverpool Velocipede Team (ULVT) – all members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – are hoping their design will smash the 83.13 mph record set in September 2013 by TU Delft and VU Amsterdam universities.

They will be the first UK university team to ever compete in the global competition.

ARION1 will be designed, manufactured and ready to race by May 2015, and will attempt the record in September 2015 at the World Human Power Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada.

Team Leader Ben Hogan, 22, said: “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.

“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.”

The rider will be just five inches from the floor and will need to generate over 700 watts of pure human power.

ARION1, which emits zero carbon emissions, weighs less than 25 kilos, is 98.4% efficient and will travel at almost double the current sprint cycling record.

Philippa Oldham, Head of Transport at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “This is a fascinating project and ULVT will be working at the very cutting edge of vehicular engineering.

“To get to the speeds they intend to, the team will have to make sure everything is perfect, from the vehicle’s aerodynamics to the size of its wheels. It’s an extremely tough ask to get a human powered vehicle to travel at 90mph – and a leap into the unknown – but with the right engineering approach it is possible.

“As a project it displays the very best of UK engineering innovation and I wish them all the very best for the record attempt.”

The project has been part-funded by Friends of the University of Liverpool which awarded the team £9,000 to design and build ARION1.

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3 thoughts on “Liverpool students aim to build fastest bike in history

  1. Barry Sutton

    You stated “It [the ARION1 Velocipede] will generate enough power to light the average UK home” but surely it’s the rider who generates the power not the bike. Within reason the rider would be able to generate the same power irrespective of whether it’s transferred to the Arion or any good speed bike; the former transfers more of the same power to motion.

    Barry (a cycling commuter)

    1. Joanna (Administrator) on behalf of Benjamin Hogan, team leader of the ULV Team designing the ARION1 Post author

      Thank you for your comment Barry. You’re right – it’s the rider that needs to generate the huge power requirement of over 800 watts to get the ARION1 to exceed the current 83.1 mph record. As with traditional track cycling, the team cannot expect to break the record just by building a world class bicycle. The rider acts as the bicycle’s engine, and the team need a very strong pair of legs to pedal up to 90 miles per hour. The optimum rider is a crucial part of the project, and team are beginning their rider recruitment program in the summer. If you would like to be tested to potentially ride the ARION1 at Battle Mountain Nevada, then please contact the team.

      From a design point of view, what is very important is transmission efficiency, and the team are designing the ARION1 to the finest detail to maximise this efficiency, so that nearly all of the power produced from the rider’s legs is transferred to the drive wheel.

      I hope this answers your query. However if you do have any further questions the team can be contacted directly through our social media pages , or via our website here

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