Have you ever ridden along in a tailwind and thought, “Hey, why don’t I just sit up, spread my arms out wide, and let the wind blow me down the road?” No? Well, these guys did. And they took it a lot further than that. Mixing experience sailing with biking in wide open windy coastal areas, the CycleWing Team has created a sail that straps onto your bike, and as they say could make your next bike trip “much more exciting!”
CycleWing collapsible rack-mounted bicycle sail
File this one under the heading ‘OMG’, ‘What?!’, or ‘Is that thing safe?’ The answer to that might be no, but that didn’t seem to stop inventor Jorge Pando of Margate, FL from creating CycleWing. His project is a lightweight, collapsible & electronically controlled rear rack-mounted sail that allows cyclists to harness the power of wind to get blown down (hopefully not off) the bike path. And as much as it is currently just a working proof-of-concept prototype, Pando has taken the project to Kickstarter and intends to have a production CycleWing sail ready for backers by the end of this year.
But wait, why? Get blown away!
The concept first came to Pando around three years ago while riding one day with a steady cross wind, wishing he could “somehow deploy a sail to harness it to make [his] ride a bit more thrilling.” Soon after on another ride with a string tailwind, he imagined increasing his wind exposure to take advantage of the wind and “really fly along”.
He’s not the first to want to attach a sail to a bike, but his concept is to make a relatively simple & modular solution that could be attached to most bikes, and be easy to deploy (or quickly fold back down) & easy to manage with shifting winds.
OK, so how would it work?
Working together with Nathan Rose, a mechanical engineer with aerospace experience, the patent pending CycleWing was developed on a standard rear bicycle luggage rack. The setup consists of a collapsible sail with a mast that can be electronically controlled via a handlebar mounted, two-button thumb remote with a display that indicates real-time wind angle.
Wind angles from around 45° behind you will be optimal to propel the single sail setup, with steady winds of 18-30mph (29-48km/h) delivering the best forward propulsion results. The ideal environment for riding with a CycleWing would be long straight expanse of open road or trail, think beach riding or long quiet roads. Riding around pedestrians, other cyclists, buildings, through forests or cities would make handling especially unpredictable.
The whole thing is expected to be made in the USA (likely at a low production volume) and will add less than 15lb/6.8kg to the back of your bike.
Kickstarter backing and development schedule
If reading that has made you think this could be a fun contraption to ride with, head on over to Kickstarter to back the project. It will cost you a funding pledge of $500 to secure one of the early production CycleWings. Only a couple of people have backed the project so far, which runs until the start of March.
They are still a long way to reaching their goal, but Pando seems like he is passionate about progressing this project if there is interest. Following crowdfunding, the next step will be a full engineering review to made the CycleWing production ready. The goal is to have early bird backers sailing down the road with CycleWings this coming November 2019. I’m personally very curious to see this thing take off (or not!)