Air-powered bike for the future

Design student Dean Benstead has produced a bike that runs on nothing but compressed air.

He says that with further development there is a place in the future for compressed air as an economical and environmentally-friendly option.

“I wanted to explore the viability of compressed air as an alternative fuel, and my childhood experiences riding dirt bikes led me to design the motocross bike based around the Engineair engine,” says the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Industrial student.

The 21-year-old industrial design student says it’s called the 02 Pursuit because it runs on oxygen (O2) and is “the pursuit for a better and more sustainable future”.

The machine is a working prototype of a motocross bike with Yamaha running gear, a DiPietro air engine developed by Angelo DiPietro of Engineair Australia, and chassis and bodywork by Rinlatech Engineering of Victoria.

“The stationary test runs we’ve run have been very positive – the bike can hit speeds in excess of 100km/h in its current build, and with more development we can see the range of the bike doubling or tripling,” Benstead says.

“The next prototype would involve a total re-style, different material choices over the current steel tube chassis, such as aluminium or even a futuristic printed titanium, reducing the weight comparable to a heavy-duty mountain bike.”

The first prototype has road tyres, but the bike has developed since then. “That was a project which I did last December. It has evolved from that into a motocross bike with dirt tyres which is yet to be unveiled to the public,” says Benstead who will reveal the machine at 10.30am on the first day of the three-day show in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“I’m from Bright in north-east Victoria so I rode motocross bikes as a kid and I’m familiar with that sort of riding,” he says. “Another advantage is that it is dramatically quieter than a petrol engine, even though it still has a bit of a beat to it. I could ride it any time at home and I wouldn’t get complaints from the neighbours like you might with a normal dirt bike.”

The bike’s engine is supplied by an 18-litre scuba tank. “In stationary testing it lasts about 15 minutes but we may be able to double or triple that with development.

“I see it could definitely having a future in short-range inner-city commuting with closely connected re-fuelling stations or as a recreational bike for half-hour races. Refuelling would be free once you have a compressor.”


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