The Race To Build The Magical Flying Bicycle You Never Knew You Needed

We don’t know quite where flying bikes would fit into the overall transport mix, but designers all over the world are chasing after the goal.

It’s not exactly clear why the human race needs a flying bicycle. But that isn’t stopping the human race from trying to build one.

In the Czech Republic, four companies are collaborating on the F-Bike, which flew for the first time this summer. It has four battery-powered propellers (two front and back, two at the side), and stayed aloft for a full five minutes during a test run:

At 187 pounds, it is on the heavy side and the F-Bike carried only a dummy passenger, not an actual human. But the companies are working on a more powerful version, and eventually hope to create a commuter vehicle that would make Jules Verne proud. Jindrich Vitu, a spokesperson for the F-Bike project, says Verne and The Flying Airship, a Czech film, were inspirations for the idea.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., two designers have come up with the Paravelo, a bike-cum-paraglider capable of heights of 4,000 feet. The design combines a normal bike attached with a trike carrying a huge biofuel-powered fan. When you want to take off, you need to find a short runway, start the motor, and raise the canopy (and hold on tight).

In a Kickstarter pitch this August, designers John Foden and Yannick Read pointed to Paravelo’s “pioneering ‘door-to-door’ concept” and features made for “flamping” (that is, combination flying and camping. But so far the idea hasn’t quite taken off–either because the fold-up bike is seen as too expensive ($16,000) or too impractical. Either way, the campaign fell well short of its $80,000 goal.

Back in 2009, John Carver, another Brit, constructed a similar looking flying bike and flew it the length of the U.K. for charity. The Flyke, as Carver calls it, is now available online. But it’s still not clear where flying bikes fit into the overall transport mix. Everyone wants to be flying in their own personal vehicle one day–but why exactly have a bike attached? Why not go all the way from A to B?

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