What has two wheels, elevated pedals in the rear, no seat and a prone rider?
It’s a quirky bike modified by innovative HMC students.
Marc Badger ’10 and Will Scott ’10 are on a mission to use funky designs to modify a number of bicycles—all part of an independent project supported by HMC’s Shanahan Endowed Student-Directed Project Fund.
“The project is a lot of fun because it combines practical engineering and design skills with a very strong culture that exists around the country,” writes Badger—a physics major with a humanities concentration in economics—on the duo’s project blog.
So far, the team has completed three modifications: a double-high tandem bike—shown in a U.S.News & World Report video about HMC, a prone bike and a backwards-steering bike.
Using bikes donated from members of the HMC community, the students reserved their award money for purchasing books and tools, including a welding machine, angle grinder, crank shaft remover and gear tools, and headed to the junkyard for specialty pieces and parts like springs and gears.
“The work took place in our dorm almost exclusively,” says Scott, who is working toward a joint degree in mathematics and computer science, with a humanities concentration in Chinese. “One of the great things at Mudd is that we have an easily accessible outdoor multi-use area that we could work in. It also prompted a bunch of other students to stop by and chat or help us at various points.”
Throughout the creation process, Scott and Badger became more confident in their skills and creative ingenuity.
“We basically came in with very little knowledge of the whole process, and got to figure it out ourselves,” Scott explains. “From how to take the bikes apart, to welding, to painting, and finally putting the bikes back together. We got a couple of books early on in the project, one of which was very useful in giving fairly simple guides to the various steps that would need to happen.”
The duo is currently on hiatus while Scott studies abroad in China for the fall 2008 semester.
But their ride is far from over.
Come spring 2009, the guys plan to get their wheels spinning again, expanding their creativity to bicycles such as choppers and long bikes, among others.
“There are many types of bikes that can be created,” says Scott. “I still want to make a spring bike, where many of the pieces of the frame are replaced with springs. We also haven’t made any truly tall bikes, which can reach 10 to 15 feet in the air.”
And the team is more than happy to share their two-wheeled creations with others.
“Many students have gotten the chance to ride our bikes and people enjoy seeing them,” says Badger. “They also offer a fun way to entertain guests. My roommate’s brother spent about an hour trying to ride the backwards-steering bike when he came to visit.”
The project has proven enjoyable for all.
“I was really excited to discover the Shanahan Fund,” says Scott. “It’s given me the motivation to dedicate some time to what turned out to be an incredibly fruitful endeavor. I’ve learned a ton through the hands-on work, and was able to create something really cool. The best thing the award did was give us a framework where we could propose something, and then it gave us the responsibility to follow through on it.”