Surprised by size

Tonight I’ve done some further playing in Illustrator to try to flush out the reality of the Streetliner’s real world dimensions as I’ve envisioned it. What I found is surprising, namely in just how much bigger the vehicle is than I imagined. Like many of yesterday’s discoveries, it’s a pretty big “duh” once I step back and think about it. If I move the motor back and place the driver in a long, recumbent position, then I’m going to end up with a vehicle quite a bit longer than its Bergman donor. Observe:

The driver representation is calibrated to my height, and I’ve even been able to reproduce the Bergman powerplant close enough for this kind of ballpark purpose — including some of the Bergman sub-frame for the engine mount. I was pretty surprised to find that by bringing the driver down and leaning the seating position back into an ergonomically correct position it added about 40″ to the overall length. That got me thinking, how would this vehicle compare size wise to say, my MINI Cooper S? Turns out, the Streetliner in this configuration would be roughly the same length as my MINI hatch. I discovered yesterday that in picking up the body relative to the wheels, it put my eye height at roughly the same height of my MINI as well.

The MINI makes a very convenient measuring stick for me because it’s not only a small car by normal, American standards, but I drive one almost every day. In a lot of ways I feel like the MINI is about as small as a car can be before it starts getting hard to see by other drivers. I’m used to driving hyper-defensively from riding my Vespa, but it’d be nice to be that much more visible all the same. It was a surprise though, to see that the Streetliner in this configuration would indeed be a bit longer than my MINI and only a few inches narrower in track.

It’s important to remember that the width of the actual vehicle body will be about half that of my MINI and much more aerodynamically shaped. This should present perhaps as little as a third of the frontal area to the resisting wind. Combine that with this vehicle weighing less than 25% what my MINI does, and likely using an engine with about 25% the displacement and funny enough, 25% the horsepower. That should make for impressive mpg gains without even touching the engine gearing. All while likely retaining a top speed of around 100 mph.

It’s exciting stuff. I also started mocking up the basic configuration of the safety cage/chassis, but that’s another post all together.


The Brudelli Leanster

Thanks to the Yahoo! tilting vehicles group, I just discovered the Brudelli Leanster. The front end geometry is functionally the same as the Aprilia Magnet and the Tilting Motor Works design. One thing it does differently is that it has a tilt limit mechanism that keeps the bike from leaning over too far. As the photos show, the bike is able to lean over full tilt and not fall over. That’s what I want for Project Streetliner. It’s very nice to see that it’s possible. I’m also encouraged by the structural details of the frame and suspension components. They seem to be the kind of things that would be straightforward to fabricate. Very cool.

For more, check out their website:

Full LEGO prototype

I love LEGO! The next best thing to working this out by hand with a big pile of LEGOs is using their software to render a mechanical prototype of Project Streetliner. Obviously, the proportions aren’t any kind of exact, but seeing the basic shape and structure in 3D has me pretty stoked. Also, having to work through the basic mechanical details (what stays solid, what’s allowed to pivot, etc.) has given me a much better understanding of the mechanics involved. All in all, it’s not that complicated. It’s also really interesting to start thinking about the structural considerations of the safety cage / chassis.

Now that I have this so much more planted in my mind, I’m actually tempted to skip the functional model all together and go straight for the Pathliner prototype. That’s probably not a great idea, but it’s a temptation all the same. I just want to keep moving — keep making progress.