While those of us stateside were filling our bellies with turkey and stuffing, our counterparts across the ocean were picking the winner of The Big Idea, the UK's answer to American Inventor. Who took home the grand prize of 100,000 GBP and international (or at least European) fame and fortune? The answer is as long as you can pull your arm...
...the Cyclaire! Beating out such innovations as an easy-to-use cat travel case, a flexible pool cue and a scooter you can ski on, British inventor Julian Peck won The Big Idea with his Cyclaire bike pump.
I can't really argue with the choice. Unlike most entrants on these types of shows, which are merely "rethinkings" of existing products, or cross-pollination of an idea from one industry to another, the Cyclaire is an application of a totally different technology. It uses a pull-string to drive the air pump piston that fills your tire (or tyre, as they say in England). So instead of the usual 12-18 inch stroke length you get from a traditional pump, the Cyclaire gives a stroke length as long as you can pull your arm back, so it fills your tire that much quicker and easier. If you've ever used one of those portable bike pumps, you'll appreciate the value in this, as you know what a knuckle-breaker those mini-pumps can be.
As a casual cyclist, the only thing I can see wrong with it is that it because of it's unique shape, it doesn't exactly fit in with the streamline of your road bike. But if you've got one in your garage or throw it in your pack for a mountain bike trip, this seems like the way to go.
My only beef is that Cyclaire had been around for a while before the show...since early 2005, when it was named Innovation of the Year by Cycling Plus magazine (check out the Cyclaire website here) . Maybe it's just me, but I thought the spirit of these shows was to get a crazy new idea and a dedicated new inventor off the ground, not help subsidize existing, award-winning products.
But it's a great application of new technology to an everyday task (if you have a bike) and kudos to Julian for his success.
To read about the six finalists in the Big Idea show, see Tim's earlier article: American Inventor...British Style!