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make a 4-weeled-bicycle for horses
  (+61, -5)(+61, -5)(+61, -5)
(+61, -5)
  [vote for,

Ok so the oil is running out. How are we going to get around? I suggest going back to horses, but in a totally different way!

The average running speed of a man is around 24km/hr. The average speed on a bike is double, at 50km/hr.

Horses can sustain 80km/hr. Imagine how fast they'd go on a bike! Well over the speed limit anyway. It would be so much more efficient than petrol motors.

There are a lot of technical and perhaps moral difficulties with this idea. However, I think it is possible to engineer any such machine if the problem is clearly defined; certain breeds of horses could learn to become quite comfortable with the device, especially if exposed from birth.

Technical problems - breaking, balance, gears, training the horse.

Moral problems - car crashes, comfort of horse, potential for animal abuse.

To me, these seem like the kinds of problems that can be overcome, and I've already got a few ideas, but I'd better stop now while it's still half-baked :)

Thanks for the great feedback guys :) this forum rocks.

Heres an update/summary of the debate:

- Increasing horse efficiency is a silly notion because it is already efficient. Response: wheels are always going to be more efficient than legs. More importantly, the horse is powerful as well as efficient, so having it harnessed to a cycle is going to make that power a lot more controllable. Humans, while not being able to run as fast as the quadrapeds, can endure longer distances; hence Ethiopian bushmen tracking gazelle to the point of exaustion (well the animals don't have waterbottles, but still). This means we are actually MORE efficient, but simply not able to translate our energy reserves into traction as instantaneously (which makes sense - the more legs you have, the higher the "gearing").

- Horses are smelly and troublesome. Response: cars are smelly and troublesome too. And horses are lovable and loyal creatures.

- Horse would bolt all the time. Response: it depends on the breed, wether it's wearing blinkers and how it's been brought up.

- Horses wouldn't be able to learn it. Response: horses are smart enought to learn all kinds of stuff, this would be on par with the spanish walk and other crazy stuff people get horses to do.

- The pollution would be horrific. Response: Manure is a commodity, not a pollutant. The technology for dealing with horse poo (a bag) has been around for ages and works fine. The methane could be a problem, however this might be turned into a commodity as well. Perhaps we could collaborate with Johnathon re his CowGas entry!

- The title is a bit sus. Response: well, ok maybe we change it. hippolocipede is a bit long winded though. ideas?

- horses and humans can't go that fast. Response: I apologize; in my haste I must have grabbed the upper limits. This guy [link] puts the av speed of the fastest breed at around 38mph (60kph - the suburban speed limit in Aus). Turns out av bike [link] speed is slower too.

- bigger vehicles and roads needed to accomodate the bulk of the horse and the food and poop bags. Response: The size will depend on a few factors such as breed and the simplicity of the engineering solution. Poop bags aren't big at all. For local transport especially food storage would be external. However, the main flaw with this argument is the range of mamoth vehicles that currently inhabit our roads. Land-cruisers (SVs in the states?) cars with trailers, trucks, cement mixers etc. It's simply not a problem.

-Horses power comes from flexing it's back. Respose: but this is translated through it's structure so as to ultimately come out it's feet.

-It won't be able to carry people. Response: with appropriate gearing it would be able to carry anything. How fast? We'd have to run some trials.

- Uses petrol to make and transport the food. Response: Use horcycles to transport the food. Use manure to make the food!

renewooller, Apr 29 2006

Really long article on stuff http://www.cosi.org...ile/6-8-TECH-TG.pdf
Careful: a PDF file 16 pages long [NotTheSharpestSpoon, Apr 29 2006]

Wikipedia: Horsepower, History of the term http://en.wikipedia...rm_.22horsepower.22
[jutta, Apr 29 2006]

(?) Russian inventor of the bicycle for horses http://english.prav...2/12/25/41368_.html
Never heard of again, after this news item. Can't find a photo. No idea wether this is real or not. [jutta, Apr 29 2006]

rec.bicycles.misc USENET thread, 2004 http://groups.googl...en#355b46103410451b
A bicycle makes a human more efficient, but how much would it do for a horse? [jutta, Apr 29 2006]

Search for "horse bicycle" http://www.rat-patr...es/hobbledhorse.jpg
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Apr 30 2006]

Horse train http://angel.nomuta....uk/horsetrain.html
[angel, May 01 2006]

The Tevis Cup http://www.sfgate.c.../06/NBGQK81KUH1.DTL
100 miles, 24 hours [normzone, May 02 2006]

An artist's conception http://www.ebironar...horse%20bicycle.jpg
[Amos Kito, May 03 2006]

Elephant Tricycle http://thechive.fil...07_18_12-500-40.jpg
It looks like the front feet are pedalling a right-angle gear on a driveshaft. It also looks bloody slow. [baconbrain, Jul 18 2012]

I could not belive it when I saw it .... http://www.marriedt...dex.php?date=011018
[normzone, Jan 10 2018]


       this would require way too much maintanance, almost no one nowdays would want something like this.   

       I wouldn't want to have to feed my car all the time and take care of it, and I wouldn't want to have to drive it to the vet every month or whatever.
BJS, Apr 29 2006

       I wouldn't want to have to feul my car all the time and mainain it, and I wouldn't want to have to drive it to the mechanic every month or whatever.   

       <proffers sugar lump to 2fries>
po, Apr 29 2006

       Carrot filled crossaint for you!
Galbinus_Caeli, Apr 29 2006

       Technical problems - horse.

       Silliness. [+]
moomintroll, Apr 29 2006

       Even if we use horses instead of cars, there'd still be problems. Whenever you have too much of one thing in one area, you're going to get some kind of pollution.   

       "Although the day of the horse is remembered fondly, in fact horses were dangerous, dirty, and prone to drop dead on the street.The typical horse would produce 22 pounds of manure a day. 15,000 dead horses had tobe removed from the streets of New York City in 1890. Add to these detractions the ten-dency of horses to bite, kick, and bolt at loud noises, and you have a picture quite differentfrom popular myth."
From the article in the link.

       Still... bun for the image of horses trotting on treadmills to move around.
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Apr 29 2006

       is 15,000 an exaggeration?
po, Apr 29 2006

       I propose that you try this idea on the Amish, first. They use horse-drawn buggies and they ride bicycles. They should see this as a combination of allowed technologies.   

       If you made the horcycle right, the horses couldn't kick, bite, bolt or poop on the street. But it would be heavy.   

       I can't see that a horse on a treadmill would be any faster than a horse on the ground. You'd have to suspend the horse somehow, then clip pedals to its hooves. (Don't forget what supposedly happened when Catherine the Great tried suspending a horse.)   

       Odd fact: The unit of power known as a horsepower was actually based on a Shetland pony. A large horse can develop several horsepower.
baconbrain, Apr 29 2006

       Watt added half to scale up from ponies to horses. Quoting the Wikipedia article: "Most observers familiar with horses and their capabilities estimate that Watt was either a bit optimistic or intended to underpromise and overdeliver; few horses can maintain that effort for long."   

       sp: wheeled.   

       The title wouldn't stick. I'm glad this idea is what it is, and not what I thought it might be.
jutta, Apr 29 2006

       Wildly impractical, but as a man who has owned several horses, trained a wild mustang, and ridden for ten years, I heartily endorse this idea.   

       I think theres a saying that goes something like "There's nothing for the inside of a man like the outside of a horse". I personally believe if everyone owned a horse we'd be well on out way to world peace :-)
normzone, Apr 29 2006

       It's always "try it on the Amish first" with you people.
Cuit_au_Four, Apr 29 2006

       The human driver could and should be in charge of the gear changes. I would suggest a constantly variable transmission (if that's not a trademark) to avoid abrupt changes in cadence. Things such as cadence, torque, and horse heart rate could be displayed to the driver in a manner similar to contemporary automotive dials.   

       I think the horses would grow to enjoy the experience, however mistrust would be rife at first.
Texticle, Apr 30 2006

       [Texticle] has it. Horses have learned to ride in trailers, and work on treadmills and in those powered lap pools. This would be not much more complex.
normzone, Apr 30 2006

       Great idea, we can call it a hippolocipede or something similar, in order to differentiate it from a scheme I have in mind for providing a range of prostitute flavoured ice-lollies.
zen_tom, Apr 30 2006

       I love how you've got the foresight to mention "moral problems" in the idea body.
Letsbuildafort, Apr 30 2006

       <sucks on proffered sugar cube, while adding [link]>   

       I have the vague notion that the legs of a horse wouldn't work like ours with a bicycle - something to do with the joints? - and thus horses are unsuitable, but I can't back that up. Perhaps a mechanical solution can be found to adapt the bicycle to horses' legs, or maybe there is no problem. Bun anyway.
Mr Phase, Apr 30 2006

       //I have the vague notion that the legs of a horse wouldn't work like ours with a bicycle - something to do with the joints? - and thus horses are unsuitable//   

       I'm not sure how horses' legs work, but I know elephants are the only four-legged animal with knees all pointing the same direction. So if horses aren't suitable, maybe elephants will be. Plus, with elephants you get a trunk, useful as a horn, and for signalling left or right turns.
imaginality, Apr 30 2006

       And how many hamsters would we get out of the horcycle?
methinksnot, Apr 30 2006

       The claims are a little "out there": I don't think I can run 24 km/hr. If I wind my 27 spd mountain bike all the way out, I can hit 50 km/hr, but that's not a "sustained" speed. A horse running at 80 km/hr? That's 50 mph! That's pretty darn fast!   

       I just don't think so.
Grunchy, May 01 2006

       I thought [Grunchy] might be wrong, but it seems not.   

       I calc. Olympic sprinter (100 meters): 20 mph, Avg. healthy person (100 meters): 14 mph. I found also that racehorses can hit 45 mph (unsustained). I have been known to miscalculate, though in things like this.   

       The speeds he gave for cycling seem believable enough after looking at some sites. I doubt I could hit 50 kph on a sprint (well I think I hit 50 MPH on a sprint but it was down a very large steep hill - if you believe those little speedometers) & I used to bike everywhere before I had a car.
Zimmy, May 02 2006

       For longer distances remember that the four minute mile was thought to be an unbreakable barrier for a long time. A four minute mile is fifteen miles an hour.   

       The world record for the marathon is about two hours. So that is 13mph.   

       100k ultra marathons have been finished in a bit over six hours. So about 11mph.   

       Interestingly enough, there seem to be no professional horse races that are even half as long as a marathon.
Galbinus_Caeli, May 02 2006

       You must not be familiar with the Tevis Cup [link]
normzone, May 02 2006

       [normzone] I was not. Very interesting. Especially how grueling it seems to be. Most starters not finishing.   

       Looks like the winning time is 17:45. 100 mile runs are often finished in under sixteen hours. Interesting.
Galbinus_Caeli, May 03 2006

       Putting a horse on a bike isn't going to double its speed because a running horse is already traveling close to its optimal speed. According to Infallible Source (educashional Tee vEE), the horse is a perfect running machine, so I don't think you could squeeze much more speed out of it by putting it on a bike.   

       The reason you can double a human's speed by putting them on a bike is because you humans suck. You're built for sitting on your butts and typing. And talking. Jesus H christ on a crutch, if we could ever harness the human jawbone, all doubts about future energy sources would vanish. Woof.
luxlucet, May 03 2006

       Let's say that horses are 'perfect running machines'. I still don't think that we can discount the engineering superiority of the wheel.   

       My assertion is that a properly-designed wheeled machine will always be a better way of travelling than bouncing along on legs. I say a pedalling horse would be quicker than a running one, and the inclusion of gears in the machine would open the gap out even further.
Texticle, May 03 2006

       [100 mile runs are often finished in under sixteen hours]   

       True enough, but not by anyone carrying a person on their back. Or even carrying 15 - 20 percent of their body weight, which is roughly what a horse does.   

       I'm with [Texticle] on this one. While a horse is a great running machine, well designed machinery and transmission could scale that up some.   

       In a practical manner? Hell no, this is the 'bakery!
normzone, May 03 2006

       Beautiful. ++   

       And with the recent advances in materials science, we could have horse powered flight and a horse powered space elevator for the ulitmate irony in technology. (TIC but semi serious.)
sartep, May 03 2006

       Elsewhere in the Halfbakery, I think it was "Right-handed Races", I went a little overboard on describing horse gaits. To keep it shorter here, I'll just say that a galloping horse gets a lot of power from flexing his back. Simple pedals aren't going to be enough.   

       Besides, horses are beautiful. Why put one inside a vehicle?   

       Has anyone established how much petrol it takes to grow and transport horse food? I read somewhere that humans on bicycles are using more food, ergo, more petrol to grow it, than they would if they were sitting in a car--not more petrol than the car uses, just more petrol than they realize. A horse-powered cycle might be past the point of useful return.   

       A horse, his food bag, his poop bag, his safety equipment and equine entertainment is going to have to be in a damn big cycle.
baconbrain, May 03 2006

       And that's just what it will say on the hood ornament:   


       [Damn Big Cycle]   

       or maybe   

       [Distance By Clydesdale]
normzone, May 03 2006

       I've been trying to think of what these are called for the last several days, but It escapes me.   

       Does anyone know what those boots that have a C shaped spring underneath are called? (Person's feet are elevated about a foot off the ground)   

       If you know what I am talking about, I wonder if these, affixed to the horse shoes would increase speed / efficiency?
Zimmy, May 04 2006

       With a few strategically placed letters, the title could be vandalized to read "whorecycle."
Letsbuildafort, May 04 2006

       LBAF, I think jutta was more subtle with this fact than you.
daseva, May 04 2006

       [zen_tom] spelled it out quite well, I thought.
methinksnot, May 04 2006

       Perhaps a more practical and morally acceptable variant would be the 'Ratcycle'. A cluster of rats in treadmills could be used as prime mover. Rats breed fast, eat anything (especially dead rats!) and the vehicle would look less like a large caged beast. One could also envisage paralells to current motor vehicle practise, such as Nitrous injection replaced with amphetamine injection. Perhaps we might use common fowl as power sources ("I think my big hen's gone"). However impractical, the scope for humour is almost unlimited.
Twizz, May 04 2006

       When I saw this I thought Whorecycle too - transport for the village bike.
webfishrune, Dec 07 2006

       A horse produces 13 horsepowers (at least if you take a new horse for every ride), otherwise it will -behold the weirdness- produce about one hp, which translates to about 735 Watts. These, in turn, can be produced much more efficiently than through the use of an animal...
loonquawl, Jan 19 2009

       //These, in turn, can be produced much more efficiently than through the use of an animal//
By burning essence of long-dead animal?
coprocephalous, Jan 19 2009

       What this bicycle needs, is a fish.   

       I'm not all that comfortable with the prospect of enwheeled cavalry, but a tuna is a powerful beast and if its undulations were harnessed in such a way as to apply force to the wheels of a bicycle, I bet you'd get just as much power without all that unpleasant leg-breaking business.
zen_tom, Jan 19 2009

       //A horse produces 13 horsepower// So, by definition, a horse produces 169 horsepower, and indeed 2197 horsepower, and...
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2009

       You had me at "Imagine how fast they'd go on a bike."
colorclocks, Jan 20 2009

       zen_tom, to use fishpower to run a vehicle would be rather difficult.   

       Presumably, you'd harness the fish in a tube shaped water tank; the water from the rear of the fishtank would pass through a hydraulic motor before returning to the front of the fishtank.   

       While I can visualize it, I can't imagine it producing any serious amount of power.
goldbb, May 04 2009

       Awesome [+] what sort of mind can conceive such a contraption?
simonj, May 05 2009

       A horse bicycle would be a car that runs on grass, weeds, grain, and, alfalfa without having to convert it into ethanol or biodiesel. But you'de have to keep fueling your "car" even when not in use. It might be affordable in a rural area where the horse could graze when not working and be fed grain only when being used, or in an urban area if it is working all day, like powering a delivery truck, earning its store-bought feed.
tonybe, Nov 04 2009

       How about a dog powered version for us city slickers? It's easier to keep a half dozen dogs in your house than a horse. Not by much, but a little.   

       I'm picturing the horse not so much running but slowly pushing the treadmill or whatever you have it on, kind of like when they pull a plow which is I think how you'd get the wheels turning at a speed greater than the horse's max running speed.   

       At least that's how it works with people. If you have your bike in a gear where your feet move as fast as when you're running, you go very slow and I would think the same would be true for the horses but I could be wrong.   

       Whatever the case it's a cool idea.
doctorremulac3, Nov 05 2009


       " Try it on the Amish first "
normzone, Nov 05 2009

       You need to make a horse/electric hybrid then the driver has control of the vehicle and the horse can rest from time to time.   

       Why not modify a horsebox as a power car for a Prius.
Pat-O-Cake, Feb 01 2010

       [jutta], thanks for link to history of the term "horsepower".   

       I was watching a "horse pull" once, and two draft horses dragged such a heavy sled down the track that a 35-horsepower tractor could barely drag it back. (Of course, the horses were exhausted, while the tractor could have kept working all night.)
baconbrain, Jul 18 2012

       Cool image link - how the hell did you find that?   

       Of course it's slow - its an elephant. Are you familiar with the phrase "As fast as an elephant"? Neither am I.   

       At least he wouldn't forget how to drive it. Off to search for elephant jokes now...
normzone, Jul 18 2012

       Wheels are always more efficient than legs, but pedalling is more efficient than running. Human legs are poorly built for running, but fairly well suited for pedaling. Horse legs, on the other hand, are fairly well built for running, but do not have the strength during most of the downstroke for pedalling.
MechE, Jul 18 2012

       If the driver/contraption is going to be doing all the steering, you might as well lower the center-of-gravity by installing the horse upside down.   

       You might run afoul of anti-idling laws. How many grams of CO2 per kilometer does a horse emit anyways ?   

       According to a random'ish forum article a horse is twice as efficient as a Prius in terms of both fuel consumption (both were measured in acres of foodstuff) and carbon footprint, based on 25 miles per day.   

       <random> If you have the steel plate in your head magnetized, how long before you develop a geomagnetic sense ? </random>
FlyingToaster, Jul 18 2012

       //a horse is twice as efficient as a Prius//   

       Yes, but the horse has no cup-holders.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 18 2012

       A Prius driven at 20mph is twice* as efficient as a Prius.   

       *okay, it looks to be closer to 1.5, peaks around 85mpg, vs 55 EPA rating.
MechE, Jul 19 2012

       // lower the center-of-gravity by installing the horse upside down //   

       A recumbent horse? As funny as that sounds, that is brilliant. With the weight off his feet, the efficiency might greatly increase.   

       Yeah, you don't want the horse steering. The other day I saw an Amish hay wagon coming toward me, with the driver standing up looking over his shoulder. The two big draft horses were happily drifting over into my lane. I always slow down for the Amish, but I stopped for that one.
baconbrain, Jul 19 2012

       I've wondered if the reason we don't have horses in cities is because there is literally no where to put them all, and the bicycle is in fact just a reaction to that fact?
not_morrison_rm, Jul 20 2012


       "Yes, but the horse has no cup-holders"   

       (baconbrain), odds are he was unintentionally pulling on the reins. Those horses are far too clever to do that without being encouraged.   

       They were probably thinking "Okay, this is stupid, but we'll trust you until that guy who is slowing down gets a lot closer, and then we're filing formal protest".
normzone, Jul 20 2012

       How did I never catch this? Anyway, horses represent a significant increase in efficiency over humans. The average untrained male human can get about 35-40 mL/kg min. Horses can be up at 180 mL/kg min. So a Horcycle should be about 3 fold more efficient than a running horse.. the problem with increasing speed though, is aerodynamics. Humans get quite aerodynamic on the right bike vs. running. Horses won't really change much, so drag will go up as a cube of the speed. Nasty.   

       The key here, as usual, is dogs. They're more efficient than horses (240 mL/kg min) and more modular. Your journey may be a local trip requiring a 3 dog-power machine, or you may want to saddle up a 20 dog team with full aero fairings. Dogs are much easier to arrange into the ideal teardrop shape.
bs0u0155, Sep 05 2014

       As opposed to a whorecycle for the gal that pedals her butt all over town.   

       Waiting for gales of laughter...   


       Ok g'night folks. You've been a great crowd.
doctorremulac3, Sep 05 2014

       I'm pretty sure that ants have a higher power to weight ratio than horses.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2018

       //I personally believe if everyone owned a horse we'd be well on out way to world peace //   

       {briefly ponders the history of the Central Asian plains - Huns, Mongols, vast pyramids of skulls}   

       Carry on ...
pertinax, Jan 12 2018

       [renewooller] posted this idea in 2006, another one in 2010, and neither annos or ideas beside these footprints in the halfbakery.
normzone, Nov 29 2023

       He/she probably only had two ideas to rub together in his/her head.
xenzag, Nov 29 2023

       //footprints in the halfbakery//   

       "And this part of the journey was when you had to hop ..."
pertinax, Nov 29 2023


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