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Shimano wants us all to become silicon cyclists with on-board cycle computers that dont just switch the gears electronically but also automatically alter the front and rear suspension to give a smoother ride. PLUS: ABS bike brakes from a schoolboy inventor
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On the Shimano stand at IFMA a futuristic silver bike was showcased. This was equipped with electronic-shifting and suspension-controlling Digital Integrated Intelligence kit. It wasnt a working example because the electronic gubbins that controls the gears and the suspension is still relatively huge and ugly. But it works.

Hans Van Vliet of Shimano demonstrated the working example in an upstairs conference room to invited industry folk. The trickest bit was where the suspension could be locked out and released again by pressing a button.

Once the controls have been miniaturised and enclosed in sleek shells which could be sometime in 2002 Shimano will roll the system out and play on the fact theyve got the kit to make the worlds first intelligent bike. And the most comfortable one too because the computer-controlled suspension will automatically adjust itself to suit the riding conditions.

To complement their silicon view of the future, Shimano may be interested in speaking to 17-year old Daniel Cash from Wilmslow. He has developed an electronic anti-lock braking device for a bike. He recently won a £600 Audi Foundation grant for his invention. An onboard computer monitors the activity of the bikes brakes and wheels and when it detects a potential lock-up it applies and releases the brakes in a modulated and safe way.

A bike will only send its rider over the handlebars when the front wheel locks-up so stop that happening and you will halt many accidents, says Cash, who was once somersaulted over his MTB in a lock-up accident, breaking his arm in the process.

Audi Foundation tel: 01908 601570.

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