This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington Science Fair and 14-year-old Luca Menard has won gold for his prototype.
Menard created wings for bikes that would use air to help propel the rider forward. Normally, the win would have sent him on an all-expenses-paid trip to another Canadian city to present his design, but COVID-19 cancelled the in-person event.
The ceremony is virtual this year, instead, and Menard is getting an engraved trophy and plaque.
“The average biker experiences around six newtons of drag when moving at the average speed of 25 KM/H. In optimal conditions, this produces around 3.7 newtons of forward force,” says Menard.
That means that the wings Menard designed can cut the amount of drag a cyclist experiences in half. Using a simulator, Menard determined the best angle to put in airfoils that would push the bike forward. He says it took from October of last year until December to build this prototype.
“I wanted to see if adding sort of wings in the middle of a bike — because the inside of a bike is just empty space, it goes unused,” says Menard.
Read more: Toronto student awarded top honours at Canada-wide science fair now headed for European contest
The goal of this invention is to make cycling easier for riders, and Menard says that he accomplished that goal when he was testing it out in large wind tunnels at the Royal Military College.
“Relative to the wind, which is coming on sideways to the bike as a crosswind, the optimal angle for the airfoils to generate the most force from it is around 15 degrees,” says Menard.
He says he’s happy the pandemic didn’t cancel this year’s fair again, and he can’t wait to present his idea at Canada Wide starting May 17.