I don’t usually remember my dreams, but sometimes when I wake up in the middle of one, it’ll stick in my brain. This happened to me the other night: I woke up to go pee (because apparently I already have an old man bladder and can’t sleep through the night), and I was in the middle of quite an interesting dream.
In my dream, a bunch of my friends and I were shredding the sweetest mountain bike trails I’ve ever ridden… and they were on the moon. However, this rocky lunar landscape happened to have an atmosphere, and a stream with trees along its banks running through the moon rocks. The trails were super flowy with massive swooping berms and gap jumps back-and-forth across the lunar stream of water.
Despite the fact that the moon doesn’t have enough gravity to make the mountain biking earth-like (hence making jumping really dang easy) or atmosphere to breath, this got me thinking at 5 am in the morning: sometime in the future, if the universe doesn’t come to an abrupt end before this, we might start colonizing other earth-like planets in our galaxy. (Yep, I’ll admit it, I’m something of a closet sci-fi geek.)
If and when humans start colonizing other planets, they’ll need lightweight vehicles to carry with them on their spaceships so that when they reach the alien planet, they can do reconnaissance of the planet’s surface and have easy transportation from place to place. Transporting things like trucks or motorcycles on a spaceship seems like it would be a waste of precious space and weight, but mountain bikes? Now we’re talking!
Sci-Fi Mountain Bikes
So at 5 in the morning, I thought to myself, what would be the perfect mountain bike to explore an alien planet on? Obviously, I imagine there will be advancements in mountain bike technology between now and then, but with what we have now… here’s what I think would work best.
To begin, the obvious platform of choice would be the fat bike. With massive lunar rover-style tires, these bikes are well suited for traversing rough terrain that might not yet have a trail on it, not to mention sandy, snowy, or muddy areas. While perhaps not the fastest machines, they would easily be the most versatile.
To keep weight down during blastoff, the bicycle frames would probably be made of space-age carbon fiber. This prototype carbon Salsa Beargrease would be an ideal candidate for the basic platform:
Now, you next need to tackle the issue of parts availability Until the settlement is well-established and has enough infrastructure to mine ore and refine it into metal, getting replacement bike parts may be difficult (although 3D printing could help).
Still, eliminating the number of parts that can wear out is of utmost importance. To start, these carbon fiber wheels might help eliminate the need for new spokes or wheel maintenance, and might, again, help keep weight down:
But the most important things that need to be tackled are the two parts of the mountain bike that wear out the most: tires and tubes, and drivetrain.
To tackle the issue of tires and tubes wearing out, and the possibility of flats, I propose going to an airless tire setup:
While the tech already exists for narrower mountain bike tires, it would need to be modified and enhanced to the size of a fat bike tire. The technology and materials would probably need to advance significantly between now and then in order to keep the weight down and to provide the appropriate perfomance desired. Or perhaps an advancement in tire rubber and flat protection would be sufficient enough to go without an airless setup.
One thing that’s almost guaranteed to wear out is your drivetrain. However, make the bike a singlespeed and throw a carbon belt on there, and it’s good to go for thousands of miles before it requires a belt replacement! This also eliminates much of the need for maintenance. Sure, exploring a planet on a singlespeed could be tiring, but hey, if you’re settling an alien planet anyway, you better have balls (and legs) of steel!
Also note, right now the tech isn’t available to run a belt through a carbon frame… I’ll just leave it up to the engineers of the future to figure that one out!
Alien World Trail Development
Once you’ve got the perfect mountain bike for some otherworldy shredding, just think of the trail possibilities that would abound! Especially if no cars are transported to the planet, while at first there wouldn’t be any trails available, some trails would develop naturally (or would be created) to aid in transportation from the main population center to resources or attractions in the nearby area, or even other population centers once they’re established.
However, in addition to transportation trails, if you had the free time (and the energy after working to build a city all day), this entire world would be a blank canvas for trail development! There would literally be no end to the places you could build trails to and from. And if the main mode of transportation remained mountain bikes, I mean, could you imagine?
While this colonization would undoubtedly take place before rapid trans-galactic flight is invented, once a means of rapidly crossing the galaxy is invented, this growing planet could quickly become a mountain bike destination for the wealthy Earth citizens.
Talk about tourism dollars!
Glad I don’t dream like that, I’d never get any sleep.
Yeah, it was tough to get back to sleep after that dream!
Chain is a better idea than a belt. Belt cannot be repaired if damaged, but a chain can.
An internally geared rear hub makes sense, as does a dynamo front hub/lighting system. A rack and way to carry things would be a necessity as well. All of this will add weight….an electric assist would sure would be handy!
Ah, forgot about the rack.
I thought about the repairability factor of a metal frame too, but I’m banking on future tech coming up with ways to repair belts (and you can already repair minor carbon issues)
And if rear hub tech advances significant, that’s a good choice too
Surly has this contingency covered:
Lol yes, but a few tweaks needed 🙂
The Nightmare Version of Greg’s Dream:
The Intergalactic Sierra Club gets involved and has the whole place listed as wilderness before we could even get a wheel down.
Ha! That would suck.
I guess I’m banking on earth getting so mechanized and overdeveloped. That green space on earth almost completely disappears and/or any thing that isn’t powered by a motor looks old school and outdated.
The Nightmare Version of Greg’s Dream:
The Intergalactic Sierra Club gets involved and has the whole planet listed as wilderness before we could even get a wheel down.
They need to go up there, and clean it up first. the Apollo missions left ALL there trash/ waste up there.
Thought that was a joke at first Jeff! Wow…
Ha, I didn’t actually read that Wired article before posting the link (shame on me) hence the lack of a summary. 🙂
This paragraph from the article says it all:
“The Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, a bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives, would establish historic preservation sites where the Apollo 11 through 17 astronauts touched down and walked on the lunar surface. The parks would contain all artifacts and footprints left on the moon and, within a year, the sites would be submitted to UNESCO to become a World Heritage Site.”
“Before we exploit these wildernesses, perhaps we should ask ourselves: Is there anything out there worth protecting?”
The article even shows a fake “Wilderness” sign on the surface of the moon. Sounds like we may have already missed our chance to mountain bike on the moon. IMBA, can you get on this please before Mars is off limits? 🙂
Keep clicking through the pages… I didn’t read the whole article, but it talks about Mars and several other places! Of course, I’m sure making a wilderness area out of Mars is a long way off.
Maybe the best course of action would just be to work on getting bikes access to Wilderness, and then if Wilderness is created a couple centuries down the road are grandchildren will be “grandfathered” in 🙂
Fat bikes are not a passing fad. Specialized has entered into the realm of companies that make them.
just saw that, the little guys take the risks and the big guys jump on the bandwaggon.
First of all, How dare you! grumble* old guy *grumble* i resemble that *grumble.
Gr8 minds and all that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rolling_Stones_(novel)
The bureaucrats try to bust the twins for selling Moon bikes on Mars at one point.
Pedal power is good and all, but I could envision future tech with high energy density storage batteries, electric drive, no chain, pedal and solar charging perhaps. Regenerative breaking would be so cool on the up side of hills. And when do we get nano-tube fibers anyway. I bet some day they’ll cut the minimum frame wait in half, let’s see that’s from 2.2 to 1.1 lbs.