I got an e-mail from Arieh Schkolnik, from Kibbutz Nir-Itzhak, concerning two Grade 10 students, from Ma’ale Habsor Comprehensive School and from Nir-Itzhak, who put together a wind-bike. He sent me the photos you see below. I knew I had to speak to them, so today I interviewed Amir Florentyn and Lotan Toiw about the project.
Judih: What do you call your vehicle?
Amir: We call it a wind-bike.
J: When did you start working on it?
Amir, Lotan: During the Purim break – it took us 3 days.
J: What gave you the idea?
Amir: Arieh! (Arieh Schkolnik, who we’ve met before demonstrating how rockets can be powered by water)
Amir: But,there’s a story.
J: Tell me
Amir: You see, Arieh already had a wind-bike and we asked him if we could borrow it. But, the kibbutz safety manager had seen Arieh try it out on the road with kids, and he was concerned that it wasn’t safe enough.
So Arieh, of course, didn’t agree to let us use it. So, we decided, right then and there to build a new one, one of our own.
J: How did you start?
A: We went to the kibbutz bicycle storage area and started to look for parts. We needed wheels and a good seat. We put them together, attaching them to the front part of a bike and built a kind of triangular frame.
After that, we needed more bike parts and pipes and other pieces of iron and steel. We built the steering wheel and the housing for the mast (which we already had). We made the steering wheel from two handlebars (one was already attached and we mounted the other one a little further back.
Finally, we started to build the chair and finished the assembly, and we were ready to experiment.
A: We had to figure out how to attach the sail. At the beginning, we were doing all this on the kibbutz, but we didn’t succeed much. When we went to a more open space outside of the kibbutz, we managed to travel. We were able to catch the wind and it worked.
J: How’d you feel?
Amir: We felt great.
Let me tell you how it works.
To steer the sail, we use our feet on the handlebar. There’s a string on the sail that catches the wind. We usually try for 45 degrees into the wind.
J:How fast can you go?
A: We managed to go about 20km/hour
J: Is that fast?
A: It’s fun. We even managed to crash. At least I did. But the vehicle was fine.
Lotan: There are no brakes.
J: Is that a problem?
A: Yes. The only way to slow down is to free the sail, and then the wind can’t catch it or push us.
J: Do you have plans to make more of these bikes?
A: First we need to work on some form of brakes!
Lotan: We also need to lower it, to make it more stable on the road.
J: Who is Arieh Schkolnik?
A: He works with my father in electronics on the kibbutz. And he has always invented things, including this wind-bike. A few years ago, Lotan and I found a wind bike that some other kids from school had made. We just needed a sail for it. We went to show Arieh and he got very excited and he built a new sail for it.
Our wind-bike includes parts from my father’s wind-surfboard – the sail and mast.
J: Ah, so you were lucky. Do you have any other projects?
A: Not at the moment.
J: Okay, thanks a lot Lotan and Amir. Good luck!