The world’s safest bicycle
Roll cage has rider pushed aside, not crushed
AS transport writer, my lack of respect for airbags is a matter of public record.
I’ve pointed out airbags do not “deploy”, but explode, using very hot toxic gasses to do so and injuring those who sit too close.
Among my acquaintances, airbags that exploded in low-speed bumper bashings had turned a man blind for months; broken the face of women too small to sit far enough from the steering wheel; and caused second degree burns to a guy’s arms through his leather jacket. Instead of airbags, I argue the roll cages, bucket seats and harness seatbelts we use in every race car would cost less and they have — unlike airbags — a proven record of saving lives in high-speed crashes.
ENTER THE ROLL-CAGE BABEL
The world’s first bicycle to fit a roll cage and bucket seats has therefore caused a big blip on my radar for future transport trends. Built by Crispen Sinclair Technologies and Babel Bikes, it is called the Babel Bike and the company is currently taking pledges on Indiegogo to start delivering its semi-recumbent pedal machines in May next year.
Semi-recumbent bikes enable a cyclist to push with both the back and the legs to exert more power on the pedals, but every Newton metre of torque is needed, as the non-electric Babel weighs in at a hefty 21 kilograms.
This weight is made up by a custom-made safety seat, a racing car’s roll cage, seat belts that cross over the cyclist’s chest, steel foot protectors, rearview mirrors, a loud car horn, auto-on LED headand tail lights as well as indicators, hazard lights and brake lights. Sinclair, the son of 1980s British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair, states on his company’s website the idea for what he calls the world’s safest bike came to him after he “bounced off the side of a turning van”.
He said more than six in 10 cyclists in the UK die because of trucks and buses cutting across the paths of the almost invisible bicycle.
“Overnight I came up with the idea of a safety cell for a bicycle. It would be similar to the roll cage that racing cars have … and designed so that you will be pushed away by a turning truck or bus — not crushed by it.
TRUCKS JUST PUSH IT ASIDE
Sinclair said their tests of prototypes showed how — for the first time ever — the bicycle won in a test against 38-ton trucks. He said when the truck hit the shell of the Babel Bike, it was simply pushed aside with its test dummy securely trapped inside, “instead of being crushed underneath the wheels”.
Sinclair and Babel Bike have teamed up with factories in China and Taiwan with the aim to make a million of their roll cage cycles.
To facilitate payments, the group is offering credit options so that the bikes can be bought with 36 monthly payments. In the UK, the monthly repayments work out less than the bus fare for the average consumer, but the strong pound will yet see inventors pay Sinclair the sincerest form of flattery by imitating his idea with a flood of Babel Bike imitations.
For those who want the original, a pledge on Indiegogo of £1 999 (over R35 900) will get one, while a Babel Bike assisted by a Shimano 250 Watt electric motor with an 80 km range costs over R54 900. Retail prices will be about R63 000 for the electric bike and £3,499 and R45 000 for a leg-powered Babel.
‘I came up with the idea after I bounced off a turning van.’
Being recumbent, the Babel Bike enables the cyclist to push the pedals with more power.