Another Brilliant Idea Ruined By Facts

Biking is great, isn’t it?  You get fresh air, it’s inexpensive, and you get muscles like this guy:

The problem is, it’s so damn hard.  Wouldn’t it be great if it was easier?  Now, there are a lot of ideas out there on how to improve the bicycle (most of which suck), but Stephen Britt thinks he’s come up with a simpler solution.  Enter the Fast Forward pedal.

This is a pedal with a battery and an electric motor.  It turns the shaft by which it is attached to the bike in such a way that, if it were held level, it would propel the crank forward.  He says that it will provide assistance on hills and such, and it won’t.  He’s wrong.  He’s entered a contest to win $50,000 to develop this idea, but it still won’t work for a very fundamental reason.

If it’s only attached to the pedal, and not to the chain or the wheel, then all it can do is push back against your feet, and that’s not making anything easier.  Newton’s third law means that every unit of torque it pushes against the crank is a unit of torque that the crank pushes back, which is another unit of torque that you, the rider, have to provide.  This will make no difference at all to your riding, except your stupid pedals will be trying to writhe away from under your feet the whole damn time.


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