Once you get the basics down, biking seems easy—at least until you encounter your first hill. Even professional cyclists wince as they work their way up slopes, so imagine how hard it is for mere mortals.
As an entry in the Barclays Business Take One Small Step Competition, the Fast Forward Cycle Pedals promise to make such an arduous task a little easier. Designed as a drop-in replacement for normal pedals, Fast Forward starts providing assistance once its built-in sensors detect extra pedaling effort.
When it's needed, Fast Forward draws power from its internal Lithium-Polymer batteries to lighten the pedaling load. With the cyclist's feet providing resistance (by keeping the pedals level with the ground), motors in each pedal turn on their own axes, turning the cranks by themselves and transferring power to the bike's drivetrain.
Imagine sticking in a powered screwdriver—with a gear on the end—into a bike's pedal mount—which has its own gear that meshes with your screwdriver's gear perfectly.
Activating the screwdriver while holding it firmly turns its gear, forcing the gear in the pedal mount to keep up with the rotation. This torque pushes the crank to rotate; if the screwdriver wasn't held firmly, it would spin wildly in place when turned on. But because it can't (if you've "conducted" this thought experiment properly), the need to spin transfers to the crank.
The Fast Forward pedals easily detach from the pedal mounts for recharging. Stephen Britt entered the competition to secure initial capital to turn his prototype into a market product, promising a max output of 200 watts and a retail price of £200 (nearly $300). That sounds expensive, until you realize that a normal electric bike can set you back by around $1200!
Here's your chance to help him out: head over to the entry page through the link below and give this little project the boost that it deserves.