Wheeling around Engineering Plaza

Mechanical Engineering students and twins Nathan and Matthew Carlson ride a side-by-side bike designed by Caroline Swanson called a Buddy Bike.

Mechanical Engineering students enrolled in ME 441 — often referred to as the “bike building class” — study the geometry and physics of single track vehicles and then design and construct their own unique bicycles.

“Everyone is familiar with the behavior of regular bikes, but when you tweak the geometry of the frame, things become more unstable — and interesting,” said Professor Andrew Kean as he watched students ride other students’ bicycles around Engineering Plaza on the last day of class. “A little change in design makes a big difference in the math.”

Made from old bikes, new parts, carbon fiber and wood, the finished products covered a wide spectrum of designs, from a prone style where the rider lies face down about a foot from the ground to a towering ‘circle’ bike that requires the rider to find a ladder or two strong friends to get into the seat.

“Fun class,” said mechanical engineering student Caroline Swanson as she pedaled her side-by-side ‘Buddy Bike’ with Emily Hubbard. “Lot of work, but fun.”

Building Bikes

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.

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