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Engineering studies

1. The history of the bicycle and the technological changes that have affected its design have both impacted on society and been influenced by changing societal values. An increase in leisure pursuits, awareness of personal fitness and competition have created a market for the Superbike beyond elite cycling circles.
Discuss this statement identifying significant technological changes that helped to initiate such a change.
2. Compare the images under the heading The history of the bicycle and identify key developmental changes. What advances and changes in technology would have allowed these to occur?
3. The development of the Superbike through the collaboration of athletes and researchers at high-tech research facilities illustrates the emergence of sports science in Australia. What type of research has taken place to enhance equipment for rowing, for example?
4. Justify the decision to use carbon fibre in the Superbike, with particular reference to relevant structural and property relationships.
5. Kevlar (carbon fibre) is available as inserts for bicycle tyres. Write four bullet points as text for a brochure promoting the use of Kevlar.
6. Carbon fibre has been used in Formula One racing cars. Research how carbon fibre has been used and its potential use in personal transport in the future. Indicate why it would be valuable in the applications you have identified.
7. What testing methods are used during the development of a bicycle? What destructive and non-destructive testing methods could be used for materials and structures in other similar engineering applications?
8. Investigate the advantages of monocoque constructions over other styles of construction.

Explain the following manufacturing processes:

  • resin transfer moulding
  • rotational mouldings of thermoplastics
  • vacuum forming fibre reinforced plastics (frps).
10. Compare an 'old' bicycle design with one of today's specific-use designs. Comment on how increased knowledge of materials and improved manufacturing processes have contributed to these changes.
11. Investigate reasons for the proportionally low level of use of the bicycle as a mode of personal transport in Australia compared with other countries, for example Japan, China and the Netherlands.

As a class or as an individual, design one of the following:
a) a bicycle
b) a component for a bicycle
c) a modification to an existing bicycle
d) an accessory for a specific use, such as touring, racing, camping, or commuting.

13. Investigate methods of manufacturing metal tube from:
a) steel
b) alloys of aluminium.
14. Explain why there has been no bicycle manufacture in Australia since 1990.
15. Describe the process of 'vacuum bagging' when applied to forming plastics, such as carbon fibre or glass fibre products.
16. What is meant by the term tooling? See glossary.
17. Research and explain:
a) alternative manufacturing materials used in bicycle manufacture
b) the joining methods used with these materials. Use diagrams to assist your
18. Develop a table to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of carbon fibre versus other materials.
19. Metal tubular frames are widely used. One example is in cranes.

a) Identify other uses of tubular frames.
b) Conduct an experiment to test the strength of a variety of metal rods and
a metal tube.
c) Record your results in a database.
d) Describe the mode of failure of each of the samples.

This is the type of information gathered by the Superbike team for finite element modelling (FEM) analysis.

20. Sketch and label two types of caliper brakes.

Develop and complete a table, as indicated below, to show the advantages and disadvantages of different types of bearings.

Types of bearings Advantages Disadvantages Sketch
Ball bearings
Tapered roller bearings
Needle roller bearings
Bronze bush bearings

Design and technology

1. Critically analyse the innovative design practice presented in the Superbike case study.
2. Research the ecological, economic, social, ethical and legal implications of carbon fibre technology.
3. Comment on the impact of emerging technologies on the cycling population in Australia.
4. Compare the environmental impact of the metal tube frame with the carbon fibre
frame. Consider manufacturing impact and disposal.
5. Read the case study, AIS/RMIT Superbike. Underline those words or phrases you
are not familiar with. Identify the meaning of those terms using the resources provided.
6. Explain why the Superbike is considered innovative. Include in your explanation
mention of design and materials.
7. How was the concept of a Superbike initially conceived? How did the
involvement of a team of people assist this process?
8. Use the Milestones in design development to describe in detail the process
undertaken to produce the design.
9. Compare the Superbike with traditional bicycle designs. Assess the impact of these
changes upon the environment.
10. How has the usage of bikes changed over the past century? What have been the
global consequences of this change, from both a social and, an environmental perspective?

Further reading
Beeley, S. (1992) A History of Bicycles, Wellfleet Press, New Jersey.
Dodge, P. (1996) The Bicycle, Flammarion, Paris.
Fitzpatrick, J. (1980) The Bicycle and the Bush, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Pridmore, J. and Hurd, J. (1995) The American Bicycle, Motorbooks International, Osceola, USA.
Thompson, L., (1996) Jumpstart for bicycle manufacture in Australia, Engineering World, August, pp. 4–7.

Cooperative Research Centre for Advance Composite Structure
Strand 7

Board of Studies NSW (1996) Make the Future Work: Appropriate Technology: a Teacher's Guide, Board of Studies NSW, Sydney.
Fritz, A. (1986) Consumer textiles, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p. 178.
Low, M. (1977) Great achievements in engineering: Making things work, Cassell Australia, Sydney, pp. 48–53.
Thompson, L. (1996) Jumpstart for bicycle manufacture in Australia, Engineering World, August, pp. 4–6.
Thompson, L. (1996) Engineering the world's fastest bicycle. Unpublished paper.


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