By Evan Perkins
Some people may hear “human powered vehicle” and envision people
rolling around in giant hamster wheels. However, the vehicle
created by the Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Team is light-years
ahead of such a contraption.
On May 1, the HPV Team, a division of the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers, competed at Cal State Northridge.
The team, officially called the Burnout Broncos, placed fourth
in the men’s drag race, seventh in the woman’s drag race and ninth
in the endurance race. All events had a field of 32
The team members were quick to point out that they out-placed
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Pomona’s longtime rival.
“I was really happy with the reliability of our vehicle,” said
Adam Sharp, project leader and a fourth-year mechanical engineering
This was the Broncos’ first year participating in the HPV
“Six months before the event, we had nothing,” said Jan Kaspar,
a fourth-year mechanical engineering student.
The team had only a very short period of time to take the
project from the planning to reality stage.
“We were starting completely from scratch,” added Andy Hedge,
teammate and fifth-year mechanical engineering student. “Cal Poly
had an HPV team 20 years ago, but since then there has been
The goal of the Human Powered Vehicle Team is to produce a new
vehicle every year for collegiate competition. The team is awarded
points for safety, practicality, cornering, acceleration, top speed
“The competition forwards human powered vehicles as a mode of
transportation,” said Hedge.
This year’s vehicle began life as a chromoly tube frame
assembled and welded by the students. The frame was fitted with
three wheels and a tilting mechanism that provided the ability to
lean into corners for improved traction.
Power came via the front wheel, which was spun by an elaborate
flexing drive chain.
Bodywork was designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency and was
a mix of composites, spandex and plexiglass.
Inside the vehicle, the driver is situated snugly in a carbon
fiber seat with legs extended forward toward the pedals. The
steering apparatus is located behind the seat to keep the driver’s
elbows safely tucked.
The team is scheduled to compete again next year at the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers’ competition in Montana.
John Kessler, the design manager for the team’s next vehicle and
a third-year mechanical engineering student, is bursting with ideas
about how to improve the design for next year’s competition, some
of which include making it rear-wheel-drive for better traction and
improving the general ergonomics of the vehicle.
“Next year our design will encompass utility as well as
performance,” said Kessler.
The Burnout Broncos encourage all students to come to their
Thursday meetings held in Building 9, room 313, during U-hour.
“If you like riding, if you like building bikes and if you like
competition; join,” said Kaspar.
The club is looking for student participation from all
concentrations, not just engineering students.
Club duties include presentation, writing and many other aspects
that are not strictly engineering based.
Anyone interested in getting involved with the team can contact
Adam Sharp at AvSharp@csupomona.edu.
Reach Evan Perkins at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Club races pedal-powered vehicle
Paul Rosales/Poly Post
Junior Larry Gordon moves toward the basket during the men’s basketball team’s win against Cal State L.A. Friday.
Club races pedal-powered vehicle
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