Bicycle technology

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Trying out the bike blender at Maya Pedal
Washing day - Sophie tests the pedal powered washing machine at Guatemala´s pedal powered technology organisation Maya Pedal
bicimaquinas at Maya Pedal, lining up for work
Bicycle Hacksaw - Bernard Kiwia of Tanzania, a bicycle mechanic, creates many tools from bicycle parts. This is his hacksaw creation.

Bicycle technology ("biketech") is the extension of the basic components of bicycle construction to a larger field of uses. Power delivered to pedals (by arms, legs, or other source of motion), transmitted by bicycle chains, drive cables, and/or bicycle gears is applied to power machines or generate electricity. The supplied motion may be used for transport, pumping water, vacuum pumping, seed winnowing, blending food, mowing grass, spinning washing machines, and so on. Thus, without the infrastructure for electricity or internal combustion, the motive power of human beings can be multiplied and extended to alleviate tedious tasks in agriculture. When all aspects are considered, this technology is probably much less expensive than the current electric way of doing things (build-out for electric infrastructure, mining copper for electric motors, burning fossil hydrocarbons in power plants causing climate disruption etc.).

Set of Components

The set of components utilized in bicycle technology is the simplest set that will enable a human to power a broad range of mechanized devices. This set of components is includes but is not limited to:

  1. simple gears
  2. chain links
  3. crank arms (from pedal to gear)
  4. bearings
  5. braided wire (for lever based controls)
  6. levers (for lever based control)
  7. pulleys/wheel frames
  8. drive belts
  9. metal tubes (welded to make frames)

All of these (except drive belts) are castable or extrudable if a group has metal working technology. However, due to the fact that these parts rarely physically fail and are widely interchangeable, a small casting/extruding operation would likely supply a large population. The commonness of certain larger units, such as forks for holding wheels/pulleys, increases the reusability of parts. Individual devices would require additional components, such as for pumps, blowers, or threshers, which could be manufactured with similar infrastructure.

Maya Pedal

Maya Pedal is a group in Guatemala employing bicycle technology for a large variety of uses amongst agrarian and city folks. The organization has extensive open source downloadable design information on their website. Applications with proven implementation:

  • water (rope) pump
  • corn grinder
  • nut sheller
  • blender
  • microconcrete vibrator for roofing tiles
  • coffee depulper
  • metal sharpener
  • washing machine
  • 12V electricity generator (prototype exists, but there are no plans on the site. You could use the same generator mechanism as open-source wind turbines, but get rid of the turbine blades, and stick the axle of the bike in there instead.
  • soil plow/till/hoe
  • wood saw

Open-source designs

Product Ecology and more Ideas


See Also