Is the bicycle really the most efficient machine that man ever invented ?

Posted on August 17, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

It is claimed that the energy efficiency of a bicycle is the equivalent of the average car doing 1,600 miles on a gallon of petrol. Tht’s 640 km per litre but I’m beginning to question the ultimate efficiency of the bicycle after visiting friends in Lymmington last weekend where we hired bikes and spent Saturday riding in the New Forest.

Iris Murdoch claimed “The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”

Elizabeth West stated “When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became… Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.”

On a beautiful day and in no hurry we rode for miles before a stop at the The Oak Inn I recommend it)  and for miles afterwards. We certainly burnt some calories but I can’t say I felt I was part of an efficient machine.

The following day our hosts took us out on the Solent to watch the start of the Fasnet race. The hundreds of competing boats are an memorable sight and the larger boats impressive. The big multi-hulls are truly awe inspiring and none more so than Spindrift 2 the eventual winner. These huge machines can fly over the water at speeds that are more than twice that of the wind that powers them. Like the bicycle no fossil fuels are required to power them and there is no need ( or opportunity) to stop at the pub for refreshments. These amazing wind powered machines must challenge the bicycles claim to be the most efficient machine ever invented.