The future of Racing HPV
The future of Racing HPV's

An article by Sean Costin

I have been giving some thought to the future of Racing HPV's and have come up with some ideas on what we might see in the next Millennia. Any analysis of the future should focus on the current limitations. These are the problems that HPV designers are hungriest to solve.

These are the biggest problems:
1. High speed handling and cornering
2. Drive train inefficiency
3. Aerodynamic efficiency.

Races can be won and lost in the turns. A bike that can turn at a faster speed has a tremendous advantage over a competitor if a course has tight turns at the end of a fast straightaway or a downhill, such as the ones in Mooresville and UW Parkside. Cornering can become very treacherous at speeds in excess of 30 MPH especially when bumps are present that can unweight the tire, causing a complete loss of traction that will put a rider down in an instant.

Both passive and sliding fork suspensions have been particularly helpful in helping improve cornering speeds, yet cornering problems still exist, we still must slow down for many turns. I predict that in addition to more front suspensions, we will see improvements in tires which will put more low durometer rubber on the road when the bike is leaned over. In order to accomplish this, I see a return to some type of solid tire & wheel which will rely more on the fork suspension to absorb bumps. A solid tire will also allow designers greater freedom in enlarging the size of the contact patch when cornering and reducing it when going straight.

Steering the rear as well as the front wheel will allow riders to turn their bikes in a shorter radius, providing an impetus to use front wheel drive systems. Drive trains on high speed HPV's are simply too complex, heavy and operate at efficiencies significantly lower than uprights. I predict an increased use of internal hub systems which will decrease the complexity and improve reliability, but offer no improvement in efficiency. I think the future will remain split between front and rear wheel drives since neither is truly superior.

The biggest improvements will be in aerodynamics. More riders will hunger for the speeds that can be obtained through rather simple technology. As we become educated in the finer elements of aerodynamics, we will learn new tricks for reducing drag. New skins will be available to decrease boundary layer turbulence similar to the effect of dimples on golf balls.

New records will be set in the one hour event which will rival speeds, such as those in the 200M flying start event, since the use of wind power has not been outlawed in such events. If I remember my rules correctly, since a landsailer does not store energy & provided that it had a human powered drive train, could conceivably shatter current records on the right cross wind course-possibly a railroad. In any case, wind power will be harnessed by HPV's and will have a dramatic effect on the shape of high speed vehicles. In the future, the most competitive vehicles will have either adjustable shells and or sails or interchangeable shells which will cater to a particular course and wind conditions. By steering both the front and rear wheel vehicles will become a far better sail, be more stable (much longer) and energized by cross winds. Imagine a vehicle like a land sailor with three wheels and all the side forces are distributed to the front and down wind wheels until the upwind rear wheel becomes airborne. This is similar, except there will be no third wheel in the air, the rear wheel will swing out to the down wind side as far as necessary to counteract the side force of the wind. Devices that utilize the wind will need to be largely self regulating, similar to skimmers that control hydrofoils to prevent vehicles from loosing stability. In the future we will be praying for cross winds instead of tail winds.

At any rate, the future will be exciting. There is so much more that can be done with racing HPV's, we are only limited by our imaginations, Laws of Physics, and our ability to find some time that is un-accounted for.

- Sean Costin