It’s been said that the geeks shall inherit the Earth, and a pair of Ontario high school students are doing it with zero emissions. Behold the Tango—a compact, electric motorcycle that could be the future of motorized solo transportation.
Introduced at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (IISEF) in Albuquerque, Oakville’s Ben Gulak and Hamilton’s Jason Morrow based their invention on the science behind the Segway. The bike features two wheels mounted close together, which raise and lower to turn the vehicle as the rider leans from side to side using accelerometer technology common in consumer devices like the Nintendo Wii. To start the bike, the rider leans forward and sits up straight to stop it. At a top speed of more than 60 km/h, that might take some daring on a busy road, but the concept is solid.
The frame above the wheel is modified from a Yamaha R6 sports bike, with other materials salvaged from projects by Gulak’s late grandfather—an engineer who willed his entire workshop to Ben after his death in 2004. Electric wheelchair motors power the bike with help from Brampton electrical engineering company Veltronics, which amped the wheelchair drive horsepower by 40%.
The cycle is reminiscent of the very sexy Bombardier Embrio concept, though the latter features a chunky single rear wheel and a second front wheel that drops when the bike comes to a stop. The boys told Canoe that their invention—which they also call the Uno—is smoother and more maneuverable than the Embrio.
What is particularly important for future development is that this fuel cell motorcycle is free of emissions, which would make it especially appropriate for cities, along with its tiny size. The Tango is only one metre tall and 122 centimetres long.
Gulak and Morrow arrived home from IISEF with the $1,500 Second Place Grand Award, Team Projects and a US$1000 Scholarship Award. We hope that cities will design streets around vehicles like this some day, and that Canadians like Gulak, Morrow and Bombardier continue to be at the forefront of this convenient, greener transportation technology.
Photos courtesy of The Canada Foundation for Innovation and Canoe.