In 1974, Marc Rosenbaum, an MIT undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering, built the world's lightest (12 pounds, 5 ounces) track bicycle for his undergraduate thesis project. Rosenbaum was a cycling enthusiast and owner of a typical 22 pound racing bicycle. He was inspired by cycling legend Eddie Merckx's 13.25-pound track bicycle at the New York Bike Show. Rosenbaum set out to build a bike that was both lighter and stronger and could be ridden on the road as well as the track. After graduation, Rosenbaum even used this bicycle to compete in the famous Mt. Washington hillclimb race.
Rosenbaum's project was one of several bicycle-related investigations going on at MIT during the early 1970s under the direction of Professor Shawn Buckley. Gary Klein (one of the best-known and most innovative aluminum-frame bicycle builders today) was a fellow student and started testing and building frames at this time as well.
Rosenbaum's bicycle is another excellent example of the mechanical engineering curriculum transformation that was taking place in the in the 1970s. Introductory courses such as 2.70 were just the first step in a student's design education. Professors encouraged students to take on imaginative and challenging problems that tested and, ultimately, pushed them beyond known limits. In addition to the bicycle, the museum has some supporting documentation including Rosenbaum's thesis, original notes, photographs and magazine articles.