Bike-Powered Inventions: Power to the Pedal!Lindsey Hunt
From toddlers on tricycles to paperboys on their route, bicycle school buses in Holland, and e-bike vacations in Tuscany and beyond, bikes have become our most trusted mode of transport. Aside from being an eco-friendly way to get around, cycling is gathering more steam every year as a form of exercise, and it remains a favorite way to play, making us feel free and joyful. What else is this magical two-wheeled machine capable of?
To send off National Bike Month in style, we found some of the most innovative ways that bicycles have been used to power great ideas and inventions, changing the world (and adding a little fun) one pedal stroke at a time!
Workout While You Work
Photo courtesy Pedal Power
The Bike-Powered Desk
Pedal Power’s Big Rig work station makes the standing desk look like a wet noodle. The company began as a two-person startup in Essex, New York with the dream of revolutionizing our relationship with energy and demonstrating how precious a resource it is. Pedal Power’s Big Rig combines a smooth ergonomic design with a work surface and power outlets to charge your laptop or cell phone as you cycle. If you’d rather skip the spandex while you sift through work emails, the Big Rig is capable of powering various other tools and appliances, ranging from sewing machines to log-splitters.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Bike for Ice Cream
Bicycle-Churned Ice Cream
Bike wheels hang artistically from the ceiling of Peddler’s Creamery in historic downtown Los Angeles. Inside the colorful shopfront window, founder Edward Belden rides an old Schwinn bicycle mounted on rollers to churn up a fresh batch of strawberry-basil sorbet. It takes about four miles of pedaling to freeze a five-gallon batch of Mexican Chocolate, and for every scoop sold, a portion of the profits are donated to social and environmental causes. The creamery supports local farmers and uses organic ingredients as well as fair-trade chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Ice cream binge minus bike ride equals net zero, right?
Laundry on Wheels
Photo courtesy Dalian Nationalities University
Bike Washing Machine
Designers from Dalian Nationalities University in China have an answer for the age-old cyclist’s conundrum: you want to keep riding, but you need a clean kit. The “BiWa” kills two birds with one stone by replacing the front wheel of a stationary bike with a washing drum. As you pedal, the drum churns the clothes like an old-fashioned washer. It takes ten minutes of spinning to get your jerseys and bibs clean, then you can drain and refill for another ten-minute rinse cycle. Save space, save energy, and get some miles in at the same time—why not?
Ride, Roast, Repeat
Cycle-centric Coffee in California
Every Tuesday night, the smell of freshly roasted coffee and the sound of tumbling beans fills the Pepper Peddler in Davis, California. Owner Alex Roth pedals a Schwinn fixed-gear bike whose chain is attached to an axle; the axle rotates a fixed gear in a large drum above a red-hot burner and sends coffee beans tumbling around as if in a clothes dryer. To add up energy savings across the board, Pepper Peddler delivers their fair trade, bike-roasted, organic beans to residents, cafes, and grocery stores in the Davis and Sacramento area by bicycle.
Two Wheels, Four Filters, Endless H2O
Making Drinking Water in Disaster Areas
In the aftermath of two devastating Japanese earthquakes, Nippon Basic invented the CycloClean bike to bring clean drinking water to communities in crisis. This rugged two-wheeled hero reaches remote areas that are inaccessible by car, then does double duty turning dirty water from rivers, ponds, swimming pools, and bathtubs into potable water. Insert the hose into the water source, mount the back wheel on a stationary stand, and pedal to pump water through a four-part filtration system attached to the seat. With just one hour of cycling, the CycloClean can produce enough filtered water for 150 people.
Connecting Bamboo Huts to the World
Bringing Internet to Rural Laos
Back in 1966, Vietnam War veteran Lee Thorn was loading bombs onto American planes headed for Laos. Decades later, Thorn created the Jhai Foundation to heal the communities he had affected. Among the NGO’s initiatives is to connect rural villages to the web using durable, low-cost computers. The batteries of these custom-designed PCs start humming at the strokes of a stationary bike, and an antenna bolted to the thatched roof of a bamboo hut broadcasts to a phone line some 20 miles away. In areas with no electricity and no phone lines, these bike-powered Jhai Computers are revolutionary, providing a reliable way for villagers to communicate and learn.
The Bike That Gets You Buzzed
Seattle’s Brewery Bicycle
Four beer-obsessed brothers in Seattle are behind this microbrewery with a twist: every week, all 800 pounds of the grain used to produce Flying Lion Brewery’s handcrafted stouts and pale ales are ground up by a custom-designed bicycle (and a little legwork). As you pedal, grains flow down from a storage unit above and are pulverized by a system of gears. There’s even a convenient cup-holder on the handlebar, in case you need a cold pint of Sweet Potato Porter to keep you going as you pedal up the next brew.
Farm Fresh Food, Coming Right Up!
CSA Deliveries Directly to Your Door
Bicycle messengers and couriers are not a new idea, of course. But combine the green benefits of bicycle delivery with improved access to fresh, organic produce and support of sustainable local farms, and you’ve got a company DuVine is proud to have in our backyard. Weather permitting, Boston Organics uses a cargo bike to deliver boxes of farm share produce in parts of the city that are dense and difficult to navigate by delivery van. Not in Boston? Companies like Bikeables in Ontario and Urban Bee Co. in Seattle are jumping on the bandwagon with human-powered ways to deliver delicious goods in their cities.
Resourceful Cycling Solutions in Guatemala
Blender bikes are used in other parts of the world to make smoothies or shakes, but Carlos Marroquin recognized a way for this Franken-bike to help his hometown of San Andrés Itzapa after a destructive 26-year civil war ravaged Guatemala. Maya Pedal receives donated bikes from North America and either reconditions them for sale or uses the components to build pedal-powered machines. These “Bicimachinas” are helping Guatemalan villages by providing energy for activities such as pumping water, shelling nuts, and milling grains. In San Andrés Itzapa, Ana María Guch and her family use their “Biciliquatora” blender to produce and sell homemade shampoo from aloe vera plants grown in their garden.
CATEGORIES: DuVine Style