The Open Waterbike Requirements

This is a startup set of architectural design requirements for the Open Waterbike. Please help us improving it.


The Open Waterbike Project is aimed at creating a family of high-performance human-powered watercrafts whose intended uses are similar to those of the bicycle on land:

  • leisure, fitness and sports;
  • tourism and commuting;

The Open Waterbike is not a one-size-fits-all product; each Open Waterbike could be different, since you might be using components (modules) from a variety of producers that can be easily provided and assembled. The Open Waterbike Project therefore is helping you to build your boat tailored to your specific requirements, be it to dallying relaxedly along a quiet strech of river, be it to work out seriously in an agreeable environment, be it to cover long distances on a multi-day tour. You can even conceive of some of the designs as fierce competitors in speed or long-distance races.


The two selected architectures for the Open Waterbike family of vessels (Cat and Mono) share most components (modules). Each module in turn can be improved and adapted to special needs, leading to continuous innovation.

Basic requirements

  1. Safety: the Open Waterbike should be as safe as a small human powered boat could ever be, even for unexperienced people.
    She should be unsinkable if swamped. It is important to be able to release from clip pedals (if used) easily when rolled. Reserve buoyancy should be around 100% of design displacement (RW).
  2. User-friendliness: the Open Waterbike should be so easy to use that anybody can ride it in calm waters without any training and without getting wet. The boat should be reasonably easy and fast to transport and be launchable from the beach and from platforms likewise.
    The boat should not require assembly (RW) or be very easy to assemble without any tool.
    Storage shoud be considered since it often restricts the length of boat, which in turn is limiting performance (RW).
  3. Speed: the Open Waterbike architecture is supporting an entire range of different high performance long-distance human-powered boats. Intended users range from amateurs to athletes (design total mechanical power output about 150 to 400 W and up to 1,000 W in sprints).
    Particular users should be able to make good progress with as little as 50W (RW).
    More about human power here.
    Expected cruise speed should be 6 to 8 knots and over (11 to 15 kmh).

Extended requirements

While the maximum grade of safety is compulsory, there could be a trade-off  between user-friendliness and performance (speed in particular), since it is reasonable that a racing boat could be less easy-to-use than a leisure boat.

Tourism and commuting vessels should be capable of carrying a small dry cargo.

Specific versions for specific users' power output could be designed to optimize performances (e.g. for very low power output & low weight) (RW).

It would also be nice to have a version that can be placed in a suitcase for transport on planes (RW).

The possibility of completing the vessel with specific implements required by users, like for example instruments like GPS or speedometers, fishing equipment, camera supports should be taken into account; even auxiliary sails or solar-powered drive-units could be considered.

The modular components developed for the Open Waterbike should be used for  single-seater (one person) and double-seater (two persons) boats.


As all other technical documents in The Open Waterbike Project, this is material for discussion; your opinion is very welcome.


Our boat is better than mine.