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Transportation Science

Crowd Funding For Crank Physics 379

BuzzSkyline writes "A new design for bicycle cranks violates basic principles of physics, but that's not stopping the inventor of Z-Torque cranks from trying to raise thousands in start-up capital through crowd funding." The picture looks intriguing for a fleeting moment before it looks silly. Covered in similar style at a site I'm glad to discover exists, the Bicycle Museum of Bad Ideas.
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Crowd Funding For Crank Physics

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  • This got a patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turminder Xuss ( 2726733 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:28PM (#42564147)
    What are examiners for again ? Spelling mistakes ?
  • Re:Biomechanics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:37PM (#42564203)

    It's possible that by moving the pedal so the cyclist's legs are in a different position during the pedal cycle, it's possible that his muscles could more effectively power the pedals.

    Except no change has been made to the pedal cycle...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:40PM (#42564237)

    I've seen this before a dozen times or more as an engineering consultant. Some crackpot inventor comes in for a consultation with an engineering idea that "will save the world"*, and they say it works great with the soda-bottle-and-silly-straw model they built of the idea in their bathtub. They have $4 million in investment lined up, and they ask me to work up the numbers to show the feasibility of the idea.

    2 minutes later, after trying to explain to them the 0th/1st/2nd Laws of Thermodynamics and how their device can't work because it violates all of them, it degenerates into a shouting match where the inventor (with an on-line PhD in cosmetology or similar) now is trying to tell me how the 0th/1st/2nd Laws of Thermodynamics do not apply to their device. I wish them luck and then send them to the door.

    I don't envy them, because their options are 1) somehow continue to snow the investors until they make a major ass out of themselves when demonstration day inevitably comes and/or 2) slowly come to the realization that the 0th/1st/2nd Laws of Thermodynamics DO apply to their invention and that they somehow need to backpedal (pun!) out of the situation.

    I'm not against garage inventors, but I wish them the humility to take 30 minutes to get their ideas vetted by a professional in the field before they make asses out of themselves and many others. There are many areas in engineering where the legitimate ideas are getting drowned out by the noise made by the uneducated hucksters.

    *actual phrase used.

  • Re:Biomechanics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joehonkie ( 665142 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:43PM (#42564257) Homepage
    No, it's not possible. During the whole pedal cycle, the wheel is evenly in contact with the ground and the gears are in even contact with the chain. Throwing the angle on there doesn't put the rider's legs in a different position any more than rotating the existing cranks would because the "cycle" still results in the completely circular wheels and gears being in the same place. Simple physics is exactly why this can be dismissed.
  • Re:Biomechanics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:44PM (#42564263)

    "this can't be dismissed just because simple physics says that it has no mechanical advantage."

    Are you high?

    That's exactly what you can do. The whole point of this is that despite how the bar is shaped the pedal has NOT moved in relation to the crankshaft. If you DID move the pedal, that could make it more effective. It's called "a longer crank". Problem is your pedals tend to hit the ground if you do that.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:46PM (#42564289)

    What are examiners for again ? Spelling mistakes ?

    Simplistically... One can patent stupid and/or inefficient things and bad designs - as long as they're new and unique.

  • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @09:48PM (#42564299) Homepage

    Well hey,
    1) The patent is novel. I mean, who the fuck would've thought of this before?
    2) It's not obvious to one skilled in the arts. After all, it doesn't even work.
    3) It protects everyone from others attempting to use the same "concept" to shaft people without a clue.

    Overall, I'd say the patent examiners did their job just fine. A patent isn't guaranteed to work.

  • by mapuche ( 41699 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @10:09PM (#42564449) Homepage

    The length of one of the elements is innecesarily longer than the final crack length. I bet it's a nighmare to pedal thru irregular terrain, collisioning with the ground every second.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @10:22PM (#42564543)

    The crank works, and it doesn't violate any basic rules of physics.

    What doesn't work, and what does violate the rules of physics, are some of the the claims made for the crank.

    Look, people, its just a SHORTER CRANK arm. Its a gimmick, and you can't say anything about its main claims
    unless you look at the number of teeth on the chain ring.

    The claims made are:

    Smoother pedaling
    More power to climb hills
    Less perceived effort to pedal
    Faster acceleration
    Less affected by headwinds
    Ability to turn higher gearing

    None of these pertain to the crank arms, but all could be true if the gear ratios are selected to accomplish this
    (smaller chain ring)
    . Bike cranks are typically sold with the spider and chain rings. So the manufacturer
    markets a gimmick crank arm with modifications to the chain ring tooth count to mask his deception.

    The bent cranks do nothing that a shorter crank wouldn't do, because that is all they are, a shorter crank.

  • If this crank extends the diameter of the rotation

    Just making the crank longer would do that. The shape bears no effect on the diameter of the rotation as long as the distance between the pedal and the axle stays the same. The shape would only bear an effect if the crank dynamically changed shape during the rotation, but alas, this is a fixed construct.

  • Dumbass or fraud? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @10:26PM (#42564561)
    You decide.
  • Grammar Nazi (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CruddyBuddy ( 918901 ) on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:17PM (#42564795)
    "Smoother pedaling and more power then old standard type cranks."

    Oh come on. I'm not giving my money to anyone who can't write a sentence.

  • Re:Biomechanics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Friday January 11, 2013 @11:20PM (#42564813) Journal

    this can't be dismissed just because simple physics says that it has no mechanical advantage.

    Actually, that's exactly why it can be dismissed. It's nonsense.


  • Re:Lack of utility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <> on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:43AM (#42565447) Homepage Journal

    Manual of Patent Examining Procedure; 706.03(a) Rejections under 35 USC 101 III A rejection on the ground of lack of utility is appropriate when ... (2) an assertion of specific and substantive utility for the invention is not credible. Such a rejection can include the more specific grounds of inoperativeness! Such as inventions involving perpetual motion.

    But, also in the MPEP, examination focuses on the claims and the specific elements listed in said claims, not on what some Slashdot summary describes the patent as, or even an allegation of awesome results in the patent abstract or summary. And if you read the claims, they're for a specific design of bike pedal, but don't claim anything about increased efficiency or spectacular results: they simply claim this odd design for a pedal.

    So, under a 35 USC 101 analysis, is it a machine? Yes. Does it have a use in pedaling a bike? Yes. The end.

  • by drkim ( 1559875 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:17AM (#42565833)

    The material is not perfectly rigid, so the shape affects its deformation under load.

    Which means the cyclist will be wasting energy deforming the metal of the crank, which will just be dissipated as heat.

    Until the metal fails, of course, and the broken crank cuts their leg open.

  • by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @03:27AM (#42565877)
    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why real engineers aren't wealthy.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.