David Gordon Wilson, one of the most inspirational writers on cycle technology, died 2 May 2019. Although best known in the cycling world as the author of the influential book Bicycling Science and as the father of the modern recumbent bicycle, he was deeply involved in other areas of engineering, including turbine design. David held some 60 patents and designed the pump used in the world’s first artificial heart. He was also greatly concerned with matters of public health and ecology, proposing an early fossil-fuel tax and actively campaigning against smoking.
Born in Warwickshire, England in 1928, David lived most of his life in Massachusetts, USA, where he became a professor emeritus at MIT. He was a great inspiration to me, ever since I read the first edition of Bicycling Science, published in 1978. Shortly before his death, David finished the fourth edition, to be published by MIT Press in 2020.
I never met him but we corresponded occasionally and he was always happy to share his knowledge, wisdom and enthusiasm. He was particularly supportive when Professor Hans-Erhard Lessing and I were working on Bicycle Design: an illustrated history, a companion volume to his Bicycling Science.
For the Boston Globe’s obituary of this great man, click on this link: David Gordon Wilson, MIT professor and father of modern recumbent bicycles, dies at 91 – The Boston Globe