At the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain, Nevada, USA, Paralympian Karen Darke, MBE and Ken Talbot broke world records for both male and female arm-powered speed. By reaching 46.05 mph and 51.86 mph respectively, Darke and Talbot are now the first and second fastest hand cyclists in history, with Darke exceeding the previous men’s record. The records were achieved using a bike created through the ARION4 project run by the University of Liverpool Velocipede Team (ULV Team), with the support and expertise of engineering companies such as Renishaw.
On Wednesday September 12th, Darke set the female world record, reaching a speed of 41.86mph in 2.5 miles. This exceeded the previous female record by 17 mph, clearly securing the win for the ARION4 team. On the same day, Talbot raced with the aim of adding to the team’s achievements. Talbot raced the five-mile course and reached a speed of 51.86mph, breaking the world record and becoming the first hand cyclist to cycle over 50mph in history.
The next day, Darke broke her own record by reaching 46.05mph. This achievement puts her faster than the previous men’s record, making her the second fastest hand cyclist ever, only behind Talbot.
As part of the ARION4 project to build the bike, Renishaw additively manufactured the central titanium support (CTS), a vital component of the bike that attaches to the headtube to hold the layshaft and front wheel in place. The component is the backbone of the ARION4 transmission system, allowing riders to put in as much power as possible without worrying about the structural integrity of the front of the bike.
Steven Bode, Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool’s School of Engineering and the project’s Lead Academic explains: “This record is the culmination of two years hard work by our engineering students. Their combined passion for engineering and pushing the limits of human potential have resulted in the success of the ARION4 riders, Karen Darke, MBE and Ken Talbot. I’d also personally like to thank all of our sponsors, as without their support the Arion project would not exist.”
Llyr Jones, Mechanical Engineer at Renishaw explains: “We are starting to see the benefits of additive manufacturing being taken advantage of in high-speed applications, from the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car to the TransFIORmers MotoGP bike. When aiming to reach high speeds, small technical enhancements can have a large impact. The design freedom of metal 3D printing ensured a crucial component of the bike was strong and light enough to meet the conditions of the race.”