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August 07, 2006
Reinventing The Bike Wheel With SolidWorks
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on MCADcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
Each MCAD Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the MCAD industry, MCAD product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by MCADCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

A Rocky Mountain company is using SolidWorks software to reinvent the bicycle in what it hopes can be part of a global solution to rising gas prices, high vehicle costs, and congested cities - as well as a way to keep in shape while having fun.

Although many have attempted to motorize a bicycle in the past, the company says, none of the solutions have been as elegantly designed as the RevoPower Wheel. Profiled recently in Popular Science, the wheel attaches to a standard bicycle fork like any other front wheel. However, it incorporates a 25-cc gasoline engine boasting 200 miles per gallon, easy installation, light weight (12 lbs.), and intuitive operation with a single throttle/starter interface. The rider can alternate on the fly between engine power and traditional pedaling.

"SolidWorks has been a tremendous tool in helping us overcome some steep challenges to design a better transportation product," said RevoPower Wheel inventor and company founder Steve Katsaros. "We had to pack an engine, fuel delivery, controls, transmission, and a starting mechanism into the 130-millimeter width between standard bicycle fork ends. Additionally, we had to deal with a spinning carburetor and engine, which has never been the case in any other environment. Modeling our solution in three dimensions using SolidWorks software has helped us develop, iterate, and refine ideas with our focus on the design challenges, as opposed to the workings of the software tool.
It's easier and more intuitive than any 3D CAD software we've tried."

Katsaros, a patent agent who does engineering work for the ski and home improvement markets, found SolidWorks software's assembly tree especially helpful in quickly and efficiently developing documentation for the first patent on the wheel, which was granted on Dec. 6, 2005. He is hopeful that the unique qualities described in the patent will gain the interest of clients and customers from a sizeable worldwide potential market.

More than 100 million adult bicycles are produced each year, but they take considerable effort to propel over larger distances, the company reasons. With the addition of the RevoPower Wheel in 2007, RevoPower thinks that a new lease on life is in store for the bicycle.

"We understand that companies like RevoPower need to focus on their design work and not the CAD system in order to succeed at bringing great ideas to market," said Rainer Gawlick, SolidWorks vice president of worldwide marketing. "Our efforts at creating intuitive, high-performing software are designed to remove obstacles and let our customers design truly innovative products that can even change an entire industry."


by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

Being a bicycle enthusiast myself, this is a very interesting development and one that I believe has a lot of potential. RevoPower is a Denver-based company whose main purpose and objective is to bring unique, affordable transportation to emerging markets. The RevoPower Wheel has a place as both a lifestyle product, as well as a transportation product for both developed and third-world countries. RevoPower intends to service that market and make the technology available in a variety of forms.

We spoke briefly with the founder of RevoPower, Steve Katsaros, about his company, his product, and his design method. He uses SolidWorks exclusively in his shop for conceptual design and refinement, and hands the design data over to manufacturing where UGS NX CAM is used. In the early stages of the company when he was attempting to raise capital, Steve found the photorealistic capabilities in SolidWorks enabled him to convey concepts to potential investors.

So, how exactly did the whole RevoPower Wheel come about?

In 1997Steve visited a pedicab manufacturer who was experimenting with an electric-powered version of their pedicab (bicycle taxi). From previous projects, he knew that electric vehicles were impractical in terms of range, recharge time, and weight; the only advantage he could see was their attractiveness from an in-use emissions perspective (ignoring their environmental impact during manufacturing and recycling/disposal). In the case of the pedicabs, the electric motor and batteries added a massive 130 pounds to an already heavy vehicle. Most of this weight was due to the low storage density of batteries. In fact, most common form of batteries, lead acid, have a storage density of about
35 watt-hours/kilogram (more expensive batteries such as lithium-ion, only store about 150 watt-hours/kilogram), while the energy stored in gasoline is 12,000 watt-hours/kilogram.

So, he thought to himself, "How do you power a bicycle with a clean gasoline engine?" He continued to think, "Would it is possible to design a bicycle wheel with a gasoline engine built right into the wheel?" The trick was to have the entire engine, gear train, starter, gear train, and starter be so thin that the whole assembly could spin between the forks of a standard bicycle. This spinning assembly (that is, wheel with engine) could be cooled because it spins and not by a massive flywheel with a fan. In addition, Steve sought a solution that would allow anyone to install it on most bicycles, as well as be easy to use.

Thus began a journey of discovery and experimentation. From the earliest prototypes, Steve's company progressed from stage to stage over a period of several years. In 2002, he filed a comprehensive patent, and just a year later in 2003 RevoPower was founded. In 2003 he was able to go to work full time on the project. The first patent was issued in 2005, and a number of additional patents are currently pending.

The technical challenges and obstacles the company faced involved delivering fuel to a rotating engine, throttle control through the axle, and miniaturization of ignition system.

From a raw idea in early 2003, the team of engineers at RevoPower has developed breakthrough technology to incorporate an entire engine and gear train into the width of the normal bicycle wheel. Many early skeptics are now becoming believers.

A number of prototypes have been constructed and tested, and the final design is close to completion. Extensive testing and refinement are planned prior to proceeding with high-volume manufacture. The product is expected to be available in early 2007 with an expected MSRP of $399.

So, how does it work?

A small motor, turning at up to 7,500 rpm, drives a gear train that causes the wheel to rotate around a fixed axle. Reduction gearing within the hub delivers the appropriate combination of torque and speed to the wheel. The bicycle can be ridden as normal when the motor is off, or when the bicycle is traveling faster than the engine speed. The motor only engages when the speed of the bike is slower than the engine is traveling. The Wheel can be used manually or motorized at any time.

The Wheel will travel at a top speed of 20 mph or 32 km/h in its initial form; future models will include a higher torque lower speed model for carrying loads.

The Wheel uses a mixture of gasoline (petrol) and oil. The prototypes we are working with now weigh between 12 and 15 pounds (5.5 to 7 kilograms), but after production weight will decrease.

The controls are designed to operate on an automatic-off principle, meaning that if you release the throttle, the engine will shut down immediately. This should ensure that there is very little risk of injury or a runaway bicycle should the rider fall off. Even though this is our initial option, further design will ease this with possible considerations such as a kill switch.

We've all seen bicycles, mopeds, and scooters, but the RevoPower Wheel could truly be a reinvention of the wheel.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

BUNKSPEED Releases The "3D Interactive Photograph"

BUNKSPEED announced the release of HYPERDRIVE, a new software application for creating photographic imagery of 3D digital models in real time. The solution, described as the "3D interactive photograph", allows users with no expertise in CAD software or any other imaging software application to create photorealistic images from 3D digital data. It is the first software application of its kind that completely removes the complexity that is traditionally associated with creating photorealistic imagery. HYPERDRIVE is an environment that is fully raytraced in real time, combining and, therefore, eliminating the traditional time-consuming setup of a scene and image processing.
HYPERDRIVE uses High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI) to capture accurate lighting and shadow information within the environment. Similar to a digital camera, the user has control over the lens size, the brightness of the image, the environment itself where the design should be located, and the orientation of the design inside the environment.

CIMdata Names UGS As CAM Market Leader

CIMdata has named UGS as the leading vendor in the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software market for the fifth consecutive year based on vendor revenue. CIMdata includes this ranking information in its recently released Version 15 edition of the CIMdata Numerical Control (NC) Software and Services Market Assessment Report. This annual report measures and segments the CAM software market, ranks NC software suppliers based on CIMdata estimates, and identifies and discusses market and technology trends.

Autodesk Announces 3ds Max 9

Autodesk announced Autodesk 3ds Max 9 software, the latest version of its 3D modeling, animation, and rendering solution. 3ds Max 9 supports 64-bit technologies, providing digital artists with the tools for next-generation games development, design visualizations, and film and television visual effects production. 3ds Max has been used to realize several notable projects, including New York City's Freedom Tower, games such as Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Guild Wars and Mass Effect, and films such as Aeon Flux and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 3ds Max 9 software's 64-bit architecture makes it easier to work with the large datasets required for next-generation digital content
creation. Rendering is also greatly improved with the mental ray 3.5 rendering core.

AscendBridge Solutions Inc. Introduces First CATIA V5 Curriculum Dedicated To The Mold Tooling Industry

AscendBridge Solutions Inc. launched a CATIA V5 Training Curriculum for the Mold Tooling Industry. This follows their recent announcement of the Intelligent Template Process Solution for the Mold Tooling Market. AscendBridge's Mold Tooling Curriculum focuses on a committed set of courses which leverage CATIA V5 and are enhanced with explicit programs that address the specific requirements of the mold tooling market. With the appropriate training CATIA V5 can have a significant impact on the design and manufacturing effectiveness of an organization. Unfortunately today Mold Tooling companies are forced to attend generic education offerings which in turn only produce minimal additional value
for their company.

FreeDesign to Support Google SketchUp Format

FreeDesign the creator of 3D surfacing technology announced FreeDimension, a 3D surface modeling system for design and creative art. FreeDesign has created 3D surfacing technology that is the foundation for FreeDimension, which enables users to quickly and intuitively create and stylize 3D models easily and with freedom. The underlying technology is suited for creating challenging 3D models - including organic shapes - with smooth surfaces and an easy user interface. FreeDesign is introducing patent-pending N-Sided Surfacing (NSS) technology in FreeDimension, which frees users from quadrilateral surfacing technologies like NURBS and Bezier surfaces.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached
here or 408.850.9230.

This Week

Lead Story
  • Company Taps SolidWorks To Reinvent The Bike Wheel
    Product and Company News
  • ADA And Altair Collaborate On Aerospace Virtual Validation Solutions
  • Eaton Dramatically Reduces Cost and Time of Critical NVH Development with LMS Test.Lab
  • Increase Solid Model Value with 3D GD&T
  • Royal Diversified Saves Money, Increases Productivity With SolidWorks 3D PartStream.NET
  • Medical Product Leader Increases Knowledge Of AutoCAD Electrical With Training By Synergis Engineering Design Solutions
  • SPECapc Releases New Benchmarks For 3ds Max 8, Maya 7, And Solid Edge V17
  • National Instruments Brings Engineers Quickly From CAD To Motion
  • Lattice Technology Releases 64-bit XVL Converter Server
  • QuadriSpace Streamlines 3D Publishing
  • Haima Motor Adopts PTC Product Development System
  • Stratasys Transitioning Out Of Eden Product Distribution Next Year
  • PTC Grants Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 Student Edition To State Of Minnesota
  • Cervelo Cycles Improves Racing Bike Performance With Noran Engineering's FEA
  • UGS PLM Technology Helps Joe Gibbs Racing Win Races
  • Hytrol Deploys Autodesk Manufacturing Solution
  • Tech Soft America Renamed Tech Soft 3D
  • Ansoft Releases ePhysics v2
  • DE-STA-CO Partners With PARTSolutions For Digital Product Catalog
  • CAD Schroer Signs Four New U.S. Partners for STHENO/PRO, offering 2D-3D Pro/ENGINEER. Value Package
  • Schott Systeme Maintains No Price Increase Policy
  • New Education Community From ENGINEERING.com
  • Stratasys Reports Record Q2 Financial Results
  • COLLADA Open Standard For 3D Asset Interchange Gains Industry Acceptance
  • ANSYS Reports Q2 2006 Financial Results
  • Sumpraxis Engineers In China Earn SolidWorks Certification
  • Pelion Calls On Automotive Industry To "Lean Forward"
  • Alphacam To Develop Custom Software For SCM Woodworking Machines
  • AccuSoft Announces International Distribution Partnerships
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  • NASA Ames Purchases EnSight To Enhance Visualization Quality, Collaboration
  • KUKA Robotics To Provide 6-Axis, PC-Based Robot For Plastics Routering Cell
  • Boeing Continues Progress On New 777 Freighter
  • Apriso Customers Continue To Embrace Company's Adaptive Manufacturing Solution
  • IBM Expands Business Transformation Outsourcing Capability In Europe
  • Scanner Technologies Awarded Two New Patents For Manufacturing Methods
  • Boeing Selects Linux For Maritime Aircraft Mission System
  • Catalog Data Solutions Adopted By Ohio Nut & Bolt
  • ArvinMeritor's Emissions Technologies Team Receives Ford Gold Award
  • ecVision Experiences Customer Growth and Product Maturation
  • Detailed Analysis Of The MEMS Business
  • Missile Defense Analysis And 3-D Visualization Enhanced With AGI Software
  • American Axle & Manufacturing Reports Q2 2006 Financial Results
  • Delphi Completes Sale Of U.S. Battery Plant To JCI
  • International Truck And Engine Selects InfinityQS Software
  • Boeing Delivers First 737 With Enhanced Short Runway Package
  • Chrysler Group Reports July 2006 U.S. Sales
  • Visteon Announces Q2 2006 Results And Full-Year Guidance
  • Free Help For Do-It-Yourself Repairs And Parts
    Corporate Moves
  • CD-adapco Selects Manager For CAD/PLM-Embedded Solution Sales
  • Ford Hires Strategic Advisor
  • Ball Aerospace Divides Defense Business Unit, Names New Leadership
  • CAD Schroer Opens New York Office
  • Delphax Technologies Names Manufacturing VP
    Industry Events
  • Plexus Systems To Speak On Lean Manufacturing
  • CoCreate Announces 2006 Asia Pacific Forum In Japan
  • Autodesk Extends Invitation To Join Q2 FY2007 Financial Results Conference Call
  • FANUC Robotics Central To Host Manufacturing Seminar And Demonstration

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.