Some world record attempts are pretty odd, but it’s not every day you are involved in a race to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole. That’s what happened when SOLIDWORKS was used to design a bike with a difference.
Move over, Amundsen!
On December 14th of 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole. Flash forward 100 years or so and British adventurer Maria Leijerstam was plotting to become the first person to cycle there.
The challenge that lied ahead was brutal; a 400-mile pedal-push in one of the most hostile places on Earth. Maria would have to cycle for 18 hours a day for around 20 days straight, battling temperatures of -40oC, 50-mph winds, shifting ice shelves and brutal snow storms—all while carrying 55kg of luggage. Gruelling? Gruelling doesn’t come close.
After plotting a shorter, steeper route than her fellow competitors – from the Ross Ice Shelf across the challenging terrain of the Leverett Glacier – it was clear that Maria was going to need a bike with some serious muscle.
Maria’s bike would require high levels of stability, shock absorption, strength, fatigue resistance, power and grip. It had to be comfortable too. And – having watched previous attempts fail on regular bikes – it was going to need three wheels.
The cycling experts briefed with designing and building Maria’s bike were the appropriately named Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE), top manufacturers of recumbent trikes. Yet even by ICE’s standards, designing a bike capable of conquering Antarctica took some major design chops.
And that’s where SOLIDWORKS came in.
How did SOLIDWORKS help?
SOLIDWORKS gave ICE the ability to see the cross-section of its creation instantly. Instead of spending a day producing and prototyping, ICE designers could press a button and have everything they needed on-screen in front of them. It was vital for calculating material quantities. In addition, SOLIDWORKS’ simulations rendered prototyping a mere formality. If it worked in SOLIDWORKS, it would work when it was built.
What was the outcome?
The bike was a success. Not only did Maria complete her journey, she beat every other competitor to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole,and in doing so, redefined the future of polar expedition.
One world record we are proud to have played a small part in.