Around the beginning of 2014 we were approached by 2 entrepreneurs, namely Michael Singleton and Neil Symmonds. They arrived with a very rough working model of a unique 3 wheeled cycle.
You would have thought that every conceivable form of cycle would have already been thought of. Cycle design has been a favourite of design students, inventors and cycling enthusiasts for many years.
But this idea was totally different and brilliant.
- A cycle that has 3 wheels but can still lean into corners.
- A cycle that has a feet first riding style for comfort and less wind resistance.
- A cycle that can be folded up and transported in the back of a compact hatchback.
- A cycle that has beautiful aesthetics and classic lines.
We simple HAD to get involved with this project. The concept was truly unique but we could see the attraction of this unique cycle.
Fortunately Mike and Neil chose Alphatech to help develop the cycle into a workable product.
There was a lot to do. The original ‘proof of concept’ cycle had a lot of issues. It was just about rideable but needed some drastic re-design. The cycle also didn’t have a lot of the desired features and had substantial problems to overcome.
On examination of the steering geometry, it became evident that the ‘trail’ was altering on each front wheel as the cycle leant over. The trail was going from positive to negative making the wheel want to turn 180 degrees. So the first job was to introduce a ‘parallelogram’ effect mechanism to the front forks to maintain a constant head angle. This was manufactured and tested and proved successful.
The frame was far too weak and had to be completely redesigned. With the help of computer simulation our re-designed frame was 4 times stronger but only slightly heavier.
A seat was needed that was capable of being adjusted to suit a small youth right through to the tallest adult. The seat needed to have a very strong backrest that was also foldable.
The mechanism that allowed the front forks to fold away needed to be designed from scratch, along with a device to lock the forks from tilting when starting from a standstill or climbing a steep hill. This lock would also need to be engaged when folding the cycle, along with a device for keeping the steering straight.
The rear forks were also too weak and needed re-designing stronger.
A braking system was developed along with the gearing and the chain run.
Handlebars, steering and many other aspects of the cycle where designed and simulated.
Around 6 months later we were ready to manufacture the first prototypes. Mike and Neil along with their team decided to build the prototypes themselves in their small workshop. Most of the machined parts were made on their own CNC machine.