Monday, April 15, 2019

ASME HPV teams compete at MSU

Michigan State University will again host the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge in 2020 as part of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers E-Fest North April 3-5.  For more information, go to
The competition is only open to engineering students, but for HPVers well past college age, it's great fun to watch and to talk to students.
As it says below, only ONE team from Michigan, from host MSU, competed in 2019 (but three teams came from Egypt!). If anyone reading this has any connections with other Michigan colleges and universities with mechanical engineering programs, please contact them and suggest they take part in 2020.  

By Mike Eliasohn

Fifty college and university teams competed in the  American Society of Mechanical Engineers Human Powered Vehicle Challenge - North April 5-7 at Michigan State University.  Teams came from as far as Egypt (three of them) and as near as MSU.  
Within the continental United States, competitors came from as far away as Oklahoma, Washington state, South Dakota and Florida (four of them).  There also were two teams from Puerto Rico.
But from within the state of Michigan, the only entry was from host MSU. (According to, 22 colleges and universities in Michigan have four-year mechanical engineering programs, plus nine community colleges have presumably associate degree ME programs.)

Here's the entry (front) from Alexandria University in Egypt, lining up for a drag race again the University of Akron entry. (The U.A. entry finished 4th overall for the three days.)  An example of clever engineering:  Since it had to go on an airplane, the fairing breaks down into eight pieces, to fit inside one suitcase.  If the author's memory of what he was told is correct, the three Egyptian teams endured a 13-hour flight to New York, then a 12-hour drive to East Lansing.  (Jun Nogami photo)

Here's four members of the Alexandria University team and their vehicle, minus the fairing (obviously). The tricycle comes apart in two pieces, also to ease transportation on the airplane.  There's a disk brake on each wheel, which for the front wheels required modification.  The 13-member team included three women.  They finished 13th overall. (Mike E. photo)

On Friday was the static judging, with each team's vehicle evaluated on factors including design, analysis, testing, safety and aesthetics.
On Saturday was the speed event, aka drag races, with two vehicles racing at a time. There were divisions for men and women, but both sexes from each team had to race the same vehicle.
Sunday was the 2-1/2 hour endurance race, on a Spartan Stadium parking lot. Points were awarded for laps completed, average speed, a weighted track bonus and penalties assessed for illegal start assistance, failure to stop at stop sign or completing the hairpin turn, etc., and safety violations.
Ultimately, there were overall scores from Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then teams were ranked.  Because of ties, the lowest scoring teams were ranked 44th.

      Photos by the author; Tim Potter, MSU sustainable transportation manager/manager of MSU Bikes, the on-campus bicycle shop; and Jun Nogami, faculty adviser to the University of Toronto team. and chairman of the UT Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Lining up for the start of one of the Saturday morning drag races is the entry from Ohio University (31), which finished first overall over the three days and South Dakota State University (1), which finished third overall.  The starter is Mark Archibald, faculty adviser to the Grove City (Penn.) College HPV team.  Most of the 50 entries were two-wheels-in-front recumbent tricycles. (Tim Potter photo)

After years of building streamliners for the ASME event, University of Toronto students this year built this "conventional" carbon fiber bike.  (Calvin Moes is shown in this photo.)  
 "... we had been thinking for several years that the way the ASME event (has) evolved away from speed and efficiency that an ordinary bike would do just fine," team adviser Jun Nogami said in an email.  "I think we proved it this year by winning all the dynamic events" and by finishing second overall..
Here's a brief description of the construction process from Prof. Nogami:  "Male forms for the frame halves were made in reshape, and then fibreglass molds were pulled from them. The layup was done in halves, and were a bit complicated as the inserts for the headset and bottom bracket were laid up in place. The chain stays and seat stays were done separately. We had molds, etc for the forks and the front wheel, but we ran out of time so we used stock parts."
Front and rear fairings were created for the bike, but they interfered with riding it, so they weren't used. (Jun Nogami photo; for more about the ASME competition and the UT bike, go to Jun's blog:

After about four hours at the ASME event, I (Mike E.) was headed for my car when I encountered Ali Ibrahim (on bike) and Hassan Ahmed from Cairo University in the parking lot. They said the team had previously built three-wheelers; this was their first two-wheeler, which finished 28th overall. "We like this kind of bike," Hassan said.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the  bike minus the rider, to show the details, nor did I cross paths with the third team from Egypt, from Assiut University, which finished 35th overall.

This is the vehicle from Michigan State University, with Emily Oswald of Grand Rapids on board.  The first-year entry from MSU finished 21st overall.  The team started with a TerraTrike (based in Grand Rapids), then "added on," including the ASME required roll bar and the Windwrap fairing.  Emily and the other student I (Mike E.) talked to were enthusiastic, so hopefully we will see the Spartans at the Michigan HPV Rally in August and future ASME events.  (Mike E. photo) 

 This is the entry from the other MSU at the ASME event – Mississippi State University in Starkville.  Horizontal  is Nick Hopkins; vertical is Reed McNeal.  The team finished 36th overall.    (Mike E. photo)

Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. presumably had the lone prone bike competition (I didn't see another one, but I didn't see all the entries.).  It had a 100 tooth chainring, driving a 3-speed hub.It finished 27th overall.  (Mike E. photo)

This is the interesting front-wheel-drive leaning tricycle from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. The team persuaded CruzBike to donate the moving bottom bracket front end, then built the rest.  The two trailing arms were machined using a water jet.  If I remember correctly, suspension is via torsion bar.  The 20-inch rear wheels are 18 inches apart. There's a switch to lock the trailing arms so the trike doesn't lean (for instance, when stopped at a stoplight); unlocked, it leans like – well, a two-wheel CruzBike.  UW-M finished 16th overall.  (Mike E. photo)

Here's the UW - Milwaukee "leaner" during the Sunday morning endurance race.  The rider is Anthony Pierson, who is president of the university's HPV group.  (Jun Nogami photo)

This is the other "leaner" at the ASME competition, from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.  Shown here during the Sunday morning endurance race, it finished 10th overall for the weekend.  (Jun Nogami photo)

Had there been a Pontiac Wide-Track award (if you know that reference, you're as old as the author), it would have gone to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsburg. In the photo are Holly Liebel and Tinna Sherman. (Apologies for my not writing down whom was whom.) The frame is aluminum tubing  the fairing is carbon fiber.  They said the very wide track added stability. Fortunately for the team, which finished 11th overall, the course for Sunday's endurance race didn't include a narrow gate for vehicles to pass through.  (As an apartment dweller and owner of a recumbent tricycle, a pet peeve of mine is that many manufactured recumbent trikes are too wide to go through doorways.  Not everyone owns a garage. Mike E. photo)

A rider staredown preceded the start of this drag race between the University of Vermont (front) and the Missouri University of Science and Technology "leaner."  ASME rules require roll bars, rider safety harnesses,, and, of course, helmets.  Vehicles without roll bars and safety harnesses are penalized. (Tim Potter photo)

Hers the entry from the University of Vermont in Burlington, the second year for the team. Their first-year effort used mountain bike forks to hold the two front wheels.  This year, they used Catrike spindles. A water jet was used to form the rear dropouts and part of the chain tensioner.  The team finished 19th overall.   (Mike E. photo)

This is the front-wheel-drive, front-wheel-steering entry from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., which finished 25th overall.  Rose-Hulman has participated in the Michigan HPV Rally, so hopefully we will see them again in August. (Jun Nogami photo)

At least one member of the Ohio University team was cruising around on this bike, which uses two belts (not chains) for the drive system.  (Mike E. photo) The frame is aluminum tubing, mostly bolted together.  It was built by Israel Urieli who retired from the OU mechanical engineering faculty in 2012. I emailed Izzi, who sent me this description (slightly edited):

"This was my electric assist bicyclewhich I built around 20 years ago with the help of Dan Sodomsky, who introduced me to belt drives for bicycles. After retiring and downsizing, I donated the bike to OU, but I had no idea that it would be used at the ASME event. I used to travel every morning on the bike path from my home to OU, and had a charge meter. Whenever I saw the battery discharging I would always be in shock, and pedal hard to charge the batteries. Also, I would hardly ever use brakes - going on a steep downhill I would simply use the motor as a generator and charge the batteries, so I would always come to OU with the batteries charged higher than when I left home."
To see his other recumbent creations, do an online search for "Israel Urieli," then click on "Izzi's home page," then "human powered vehicles."



jnyyz said...

thanks for your reportage, Mike!

Unknown said...

TOTALLY AWESOME and fascinating how unique each bike is, and their methods of engineering! I never knew such an organization as the MHPVA existed and would be delighted to attend one of these events (so long as I didn't have to fly 13 hours plus drive another 12 to reach the event's destination! Lol) Thank you, Mike E. for steering me in this article's direction - a great read, with outstanding takes (Photos) ! Julie Turner