Cameron Robertson and Todd Reichert, PhD, have spent nearly 10 years developing
human-powered vehicles. But the founders of engineering and design group AeroVelo in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, are getting help from aerodynamic engineering students at the
University of Toronto for their latest project—building the fastest human-powered vehicle.
With the Eta Speedbike, the project team wanted to break the current world record. But
working with students posed a scheduling challenge. To accommodate classes, the bike
was primarily developed within a four-month stint in 2014. They debuted the invention
that fall at the World Human-Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA.
The team designed a frame that resembles a recumbent bike encased in an oval, carbon
fiber pod. Yet, the tight schedule didn’t leave enough time to test and resolve mechanical
flaws. The Eta suffered broken spokes, blown tires and more problems on the racetrack.
Still, the bike reached a top speed of 126.3 kilometers per hour (78.5 miles per hour),
not far from the team’s goal. AeroVelo is applying lessons learned by designing an ultra-strong carbon fiber tri-spoke wheel, and testing which tires and chains will work best for
PROJECT: Eta Speedbike DESIGNER: AeroVelo
GOAL: Break current world record of 133.8
kilometers per hour (83.1 miles per hour) for
fastest human-powered vehicle
“Our goal is to inspire the public
and really promote a vision of sustainability and ef;cient
design by taking on these incredibly mind-blowing projects.”
—Cameron Robertson, co-founder, AeroVelo, to Bloomberg