Designers and engineers from McLaren Applied Technologies and McLaren Racing have come together to design and build a bespoke rickshaw, that puts the riders’ needs first, for the BBC Children in Need 2018 Rickshaw Challenge. The Challenge kicks off on November 9, 2018 and will see a team of six inspiring young people, supported by the British charity, ride more than 400 miles from Calais to Salford over eight days.
Each design feature was a manifestation of McLaren’s intent to build a better rickshaw. Inspired by the iconic rickshaw silhouette, the new design is focused on improving accessibility and safety, whilst keeping the challenge element, rather than creating a lightweight, high-performance vehicle.
A process of insight and data driven design, coupled with rapid simulation techniques saw McLaren carry out concept, design, development and engineering in just a matter of a few months. McLaren’s closely integrated design and technical capabilities enabled acceleration of a process that would usually take a year. It saw the creation of a rickshaw from the ground up, boasting a host of elegant solutions to overcome an array of complex challenges and put the rider’s needs first.
KEY DESIGN FEATURES
Reconfigurable seat and crank assembly
The rickshaw has been designed to meet a range of differing physical requirements of the riders, including different distances between handlebars, saddle and pedals; known as the ‘stack’ and ‘reach’ dimensions. During the Challenge, rider changeovers take place frequently so this drove a need for a rapidly reconfigurable system.
The solution was to create three ‘hot swappable’ seat and pedal assemblies. Each assembly has a different length carbon fibre element with integrated pedals and saddle. The shorter the length of the assembly, the closer the assembly is to the handlebars and vice versa. This really is one rickshaw that fits a very wide range of riders.
The improved reconfiguration capabilities meant the adoption of an innovative drivetrain concept. It saw McLaren make the rickshaw belt-driven, with drive transferred from a belt to a regular chain drive and cassette on the rear axle. The added benefit of a belt drive is a clean, oil free, low maintenance system; just what the team will need during changeovers at the side of the road at night in the rain!
To achieve this, McLaren determined the geometries needed for the three rider positions and tuned them to be compatible with standard belt lengths, which could therefore be used interchangeably to meet the needs of multiple riders.
Support cyclist braking mounts
Support cyclists are in place to ride alongside the rickshaw to give moral support and provide assistance to riders during tricky sections of the route, for example going down steep hills. To help keep the rickshaw under control in previous years, the support cyclists had to apply the rickshaw’s brakes via the front handlebar. This proved a tricky and dangerous task.
Slowing the rickshaw down and maintaining the correct course while cycling and steering their own bike – all at the same time – is certainly no mean feat! McLaren overcame this with integrated braking mounts at the rear of the rickshaw to give support cyclists a safe, stable platform to hold on to and a readily accessible location to apply the safety brakes.
Previous incarnations of the rickshaw used for the Challenge only had one of the two rear wheels driven. McLaren introduced a drivetrain differential to allow both rear wheels to be driven, improving traction for hill starts, enabling the rickshaw to take tighter corners and enhancing ride quality. The ultimate result is improved handling and safety.
Component integration is crucial to achieving an optimised design and greater efficiency. This is something that McLaren strives for in every design project. The rickshaw features integrated lighting, internal brake and gear shift cables, novel drive belt tensioner, mud guards, USB charging and Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM McLaren MCL33 Edition speakers. The latter giving the riders the chance to listen to their favourite motivational tunes during their gruelling ride.
Keep up to date with Team Rickshaw’s progress each day on BBC’s The One Show. The full route – including a real-time update of the rickshaw’s progress – is available here.
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