If there was any doubt that 3D printing can create a fast bike, cyclist Neil Campbell has cast it aside. Campbell was riding a bicycle with 3D printed components when he broke the European motor-assisted cycling speed record a few days ago. Campbell reached a speed of 217.7 km (135.3 miles) per hour, beating the previous record of 204 km (127 miles) per hour. Motor-assisted means that he was towed behind a car, in this case a 2018 Porsche Cayenne, before being released to zoom off into history.
Campbell’s next goal, of course, is the world record, which is 268.8 km (approximately 167 miles) per hour, set by Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands in Utah in October 1995.The cyclist was riding a converted 20-year-old tandem bicycle created by Moss Bikes, using 3D printed parts to turn it into a lightweight, fast, record-breaking machine. Campbell’s speed was recorded as he pedaled through a 200-meter “gate.”
“I can’t stress that this is very much a team event, who all have to perform for it to happen,” Campbell said. “The driver in particular is under tremendous pressure.”
The record-setting event was the culmination of 20 years of hard work; Campbell states that he is “fixated by speed.” He already holds the British and Commonwealth bicycle speed record from pedaling only, at 114 mph.
Details of how 3D printing was used to modify the bike were not released, but it only takes a few small alterations to greatly improve the performance of a bicycle. Recently, Silicon Valley startup AREVO showcased a 3D printed bicycle made from carbon fiber. The bike featured a simplified design that removed a seat stay between the seat and the back wheel, which is a small adjustment that made the bike much stronger. Using 3D printing was also much less expensive than traditional methods, and faster as well, allowing it to be made in 18 days instead of 18 months.Whether for show or for breaking records, 3D printed bicycles are becoming more common as manufacturers and riders both realize the potential the technology has to improve performance, as well as offer unprecedented customization options. It’s unclear if Campbell will use the same bicycle to try to break the world speed record, but after his performance this week, it won’t be a surprise if he relies on 3D printing again.
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