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LSU engineering students work with local youth to build hydraulic bike

Hydraulic Bike
Hydraulic Bike(Front Yard Bikes)
Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 1:15 PM CDT
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The following information is from Front Yard Bikes and LSU:

LSU mechanical engineering students teamed up with local non-profit Front Yard Bikes (FYB) to design and build a hydraulic-powered bike.

The team designed a custom-built bicycle powered by hydraulics for an annual competition, a project that enabled them to learn from and also mentor young kids from Front Yard Bikes. The team won the annual “Tour de Patrick” competition at LSU.

Hydraulic Bike
Hydraulic Bike(Front Yard Bikes)

Front Yard Bikes is a community bike shop that focuses on teaching participants of all ages how to fix and maintain bikes, and also teaches them skills in math, physics and mechanics while promoting inclusivity, mentorship, recreation and academic achievement. FYB offers the youth in the community a safe and free after-school program where they are taught responsibility and become peer leaders as they are faced with ethical and moral questions in their day-to-day lives.

RELATED: Hoping to give kids a better memory of 2020, Front Yard Bikes gives 100+ kids brand new bikes

When LSU Mechanical Engineering senior Alicia Pastor saw that her senior capstone design project was to help design a hydraulic bike, she was excited since biking is a passion of hers, but also thought about where she could find reasonably-priced bike parts and also talk to someone with knowledge on bikes.

“I was interested in bikes and had gone to Front Yard Bikes a lot,” she said. “There are a lot of elitist attitudes in the bicycle industry and sometimes it can be hard to talk to a bike mechanic, but everyone at Front Yard Bikes has always been so kind and jumped at the opportunity to help. They really want to teach you.”

“I went to FYB to ask some general questions, and they put me in touch with Will Adams,” Pastor said. “He became our main point of contact and cycling guru. We asked if there was something we could do for him since he had given us so much of his time, and he said that if we could just help the kids somehow, that would be great. So, we had the idea of having the kids help us along the way, and we could teach them about fluid power and, ultimately, have them come to our hydraulic bike competition.”

RELATED: Non-profit bikes breakfast, lunch to families in need

Using spare parts from FYB, Pastor and her teammates, led by LSU ME senior Jake Perry, assembled their hydraulic bike, which they would race against another capstone team’s hydraulic bike in the Tour de Patrick, a hydraulic bike competition created by LSU ME alumnus Ryan Trindle and sponsored by Phillips 66.

“The project is not an attempt at all to improve the traditional bike,” Pastor said. “The competition rules are that there must be some hydraulics between the pedaling and wheel motion. The transmission on a regular bike is 98 percent efficient, but with hydraulics, we’re trying to break in with 60 percent efficiency. It’s an academic exercise to learn about fluid power.”

Perry, who offered to handle the hydraulics part of the project, said that Adams welded all the tubing on their bike frame together.

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“He’s been a great advisor in terms of bike components,” Perry said. “Will is a natural teacher and helped guide us on this project. It was also interesting to see how much these third- and fourth-graders knew about bike parts and how to put them together. It was humbling. There’s always someone out there who knows more than you.”

“The kids had a lot of fun with the project and have been following it since the beginning,” Adams said. “It was very affirming for the kids to know how valuable the mechanical knowledge they have earned was to this project.”

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