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Arion1: Pill-shaped bicycle hits 90 mph

The Arion1 is a pod-like bicycle that aims to take the land speed record.

pill bike bicycle arion1 velocipede It might look like a pill, but the Arion1 is actually a bicycle.
Credit: Arion1

The Arion1 Velocipede looks like something that belongs in an eco-friendly sci-fi movie. The pod-shaped bicycle, designed by the eight-strong University of Liverpool Velocipede Team, will be taking its phenomenal pedal power (90 mph, to be precise) to the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Battle Mountain, Nev., this September. Team Leader Ben Hogan talks to Metro about the bike’s quirky design and land speed records.

Metro: The blue and white design makes the bike look a bit like a flu pill. Was the illness an inspiration behind the design?

A flu tablet is one of the more generous description I’ve heard. The coloring is true to our university colors but it’s a blank canvas at the moment. But we will work on the design, so it doesn’t resemble, shall we say, a marital aid.

You’re aiming to beat the current record 83.1mph by hitting 90mph, so is there any danger of the bike starting to wobble?


Yes. At 80mph we can get aerodynamic lift, which is where the wheels begin to lift off the ground — a little like taking off in an airplane.

There’s no windscreen, so how does the rider see?

There’s no transparent screen because aerodynamic drag is responsible for 85% of overall drag force, so it’s our main enemy — a windscreen would disrupt the aerodynamics. We’re designing a system where a camera is mounted to the outside and the driver can navigate via an internal monitor.

Are you getting an Olympic cyclist to pedal the vehicle?

We’re not ruling it out. The position is open to the national community but this recumbent-style of cycling does require different attributes compared to the traditional upright position.

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