Bill Murphy - HPV Enthusiast, Friend, Engineer, Racer.
Bill Murphy 1953 - 2004
Early on Saturday, July 10th, Bill Murphy had his 3 eggs with shredded cheese, picked me up, and he and I drove to Kenosha, Wisconsin for the Bryant Tucker 100 HPV races. He was in good spirits, and we chatted about bikes during the drive. As usual, Bill brought his blue Tour Easy, with it's scarred but still aerodynamically efficient Zipper fairing. Bill and Sean Costin shared race director duties for the event, so we were at the track early to set up. Bill and Sean had agreed to a new method of staging racers for the first event of the day, the 1 kilometer time trial. The first to sign up was the first in the queue to race, etc. Bill made sure he was the first to sign up. 

At 10:00AM, we called the racers to start lining up for the 1K races, and Bill started his run shortly thereafter. Bill ran his race and was rock steady for all 3 laps of 333.3 meter track. Bill crossed the finish line amidst yells of encouragement from his friends and racing buddies with a time of 1:46. A second later we heard a crash and saw that Bill had gone down on the track about 20 yards past the finish line. He was not moving. An EMT was in the audience and immediately rushed over to help. I pulled Bill's bike off of him and the EMT and Wendy Toy gave him CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation but he was unresponsive. The ambulance arrived within 8 minutes, and the EMTs tried to to restart his heart with electric stimulus. The doctors at the Kenosha hospital worked on him after he arrived to no effect. Later in the hospital while Sean, Len and I waited for Bill's brother Tom to arrive, the doctor who worked on him related that he was an avid cyclist. Bill would have appreciated that. We agreed to cancel the races for the rest of the day, but to go on with the races on Sunday. Bill would have wanted it that way. Sunday morning all of the racers did a 3 lap memorial ride around the Kenosha velodrome before the races began. Since Bill was the only competitor with a recorded time for the 1K TT, he won the event, and since it was a national championship race, he is the national champion this year. We have decided to commemorate him by renaming the 1K TT to the Murphy 1K time trial.

This is a great tragedy for me personally and for a great many people in the WISIL HPVers and elsewhere. My brain still has not registered the fact that he is gone.

-Warren Beauchamp

Bill made the front page of Sunday's Kenosha news, and was mentioned on WBBM news radio on Monday. Contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association 30 N. Michigan Avenue. Suite 2015 Chicago, IL 60602 or to the American Heart Association.

Michigan 2003

Bill Murphy was a friend. He was always around when you needed him. He must have volunteered to help us move 5 times over the last couple months. He would never fail to notice if we had changed something in our house, and was always complimentary and polite. Bill never got mad. I can never remember him raising his voice, except to make himself heard. It seems like Bill always had a smile on his face.

I was thinking during the van ride home from the race that Bill and I have been on more bike trips than my wife and I have been on vacations. Whether I drove or he did, he was always sure to take care of half of the expenses. When we drove together, he was invaluable as the "crew" for my streamliner.
Bill was a scientist, a builder, a racer, and an HPV enthusiast. Whether it was at work, designing the world's smallest hearing aid microphone or at home, building human powered vehicles, Bill used an analytical and meticulous approach toward finishing the project. Bill's basement was the WISIL HPVers (WISconsin ILlinois Human Powers Vehicle ers) vehicle building location, and was often referred to as the WISIL Skunkworks. Bill had a new 3 car garage built last year to help facilitate the 2003 Flugtag glider project. Though Bill was the driving force behind many of the projects, he never wanted to draw attention to himself. We tried to get coheres him into being WISIL president many times, but he declined. You can find much more about this side of Bill by searching the WISIL web site at

Making bubble nose cones, 2000

Welding the Coslinger frame, 2000

Bill was a teacher. Bill was also willing to help with other people's projects at a moments notice. I can remember many times when I would call him to get his help with a project and Bill would volunteer to help with it that day. Bill was an excellent craftsman, and didi beautiful work welding aluminim. He preferred to help by having people do the work themselves, using his equipment. Bill would help by suggesting more precise methods of doing things, or expressing his own opinions of how things should be done. Often doing it "Bills way" would take a lot more time than the way I was thinking of, but more often than not it was the best way.
Up until last few years, Bill designed and built a new recumbent bike every year. When I would ask him about it, he would always start out "I'm going to build a long wheelbase recumbent". I think he built about 5 different long wheelbase designs. The odd thing was, except for one or two years when he raced an aluminum low racer that he designed and built, he almost always raced an Easy Racers "Tour Easy" production bicycle. I think he would have raced the low racer more if his diabetes didn't cause his feet to get numb. In recent years his feet would even get numb on his Tour Easy.

Bill at Hydrobowl 2003
Over the past 5 years or so, Bill has focused more on building human powered boats than bikes. The first boat he built is (in it's current configuration) currently the fastest boat in the WISIL "fleet".

More pictures from past HPV events...


hydrobowl 2002

Brantford, Ontario - World Championships 2002

Brantford, Ontario - World Championships 2002

Indy 2003

hydrobowl 2003

Kenosha 2002

This bike is the pirouette, built by Bill in about 1997. It feature FWD and front and rear steering, allowing it to tun in very tight circles. A fun bike that anyone could ride right away. 

Michigan HPV association member Mike Eliasohn sent these pictures and text about the bikes Bill built and raced during the 1990s. 
This was Billís very creative entry at the Michigan HPV Rally in 1993. It was, I think, before he learned to weld aluminum, so everything was bolted and/or glued together. All tubing was aluminum. Not only was there front and rear suspension, the head tube angle, seat back angle and bottom bracket location were all adjustable. The rear swing arm could be adjusted up or down to make this a low racer, as shown, or a high racer. As the latter, the main frame tube was parallel to the ground. The swing arm also could be folded all the way forward for compact storage and transportation. 
Bill at the Michigan HPV Rally in June 1995. Both wheels were 700c, the wheelbase was 36 inches, and the weight was 29 pounds. The main frame tube was 2 inches in diameter, .035 inch wall.
Here's the bike in 2006, after Bill reconfigured the frame to make it a "Bacchetta clone". The wheelbase was stretched out, and an M5 carbon fiber seat was added.

More pictures

This was Billís 1996 project, at that yearís Michigan HPV Rally. Still using 700c wheels front and rear, but with a 72 inch wheelbase. The frame was designed to flex some vertically, to provide a smooth ride.
Garrie Hill was sorting through some old HPRA race photos and found this picture of Bill from the 1997 Whiteland, Indiana HPRA races. 

Garrie wrote: 

"Not everything Bill built was 100% successful; but at least he did build some amazingly interesting things... and by god the Pirouette has to be one of the most interesting successes I ever saw! Not much talk. Just give it his best shot and see what develops. I'll miss him too. 

Garrie L. Hill
Here are pictures of a couple other bikes Bill was involved with. This is the "muffler missile", and was built by Bill and I think Rick and Len. It was a prototype for the WISIL Missile chassis. Bob Buerger raced it as a stock bike for a number of years.
This is the last of Bill's many LWB creations. It's aluminum framed, with an air cushion rear suspension. Very comfortable but a bit bouncy.

Web page eulogizing Bill on Eric Vann's web site
Web pages mentioning Bill on the WISIL site

7/13/04 Daily Herald Obituary 
William "Bill" Murphy of Carpentersville Funeral services for William "Bill" Murphy, 51, will begin at 9:45 a.m. Friday, at Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home, 516 S. Washington St., Naperville. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10:30 a.m., at St. Raphael Catholic Church, 1215 Modaff Road, Naperville. Born Dec. 12, 1952, in Melrose Park, he died Saturday, July 10, 2004, in Kenosha, Wis. Bill was an engineer/scientist for Knowles Electronic, Inc. in Itasca, where he developed patented designs in microelectronics. He was an avid Human Powered Vehicle Association (H.P.V.A) member and engineer who enjoyed his life of competition and camaraderie in the organization. As a resident of Carpentersville for 17 years, Bill developed a reputation for engineering perfection and kindly, smiling and selfless friendship with those he met. He is survived by his father, George Murphy of Escondido, Calif.; his brothers, Thomas (Rosemarie) of Naperville, Daniel (June) of Valrico, Fla., Jerald of Apple Valley, Calif. and James of Escondido; his sister, Susan (Jeffery) Roston of Fountain Hills, Ariz.; and uncle and cousin to many. Bill was preceded in death by his mother, Frances (nee Buta). Visitation will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to the American Diabetes Association, 30 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2015, Chicago, IL 60602 or to the American Heart Association. Friends may visit to express condolences and sign the guest book. For funeral information, (630)355-0264 or Published in the Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on 7/14/2004.

7/15/04 Chicago Tribune

Engineer, mentor shared passion for recumbent bikes

By Amanda Vogt
Tribune staff reporter
Published July 15, 2004

Although the world record he set is unlikely to stand for long, Carpentersville resident and recumbent bicycling enthusiast Bill Murphy would have loved holding it, even temporarily, said his friend Sean Costin. 
"He was very competitive and always the first off the starting line," Costin said. "Holding the world record in the 1K" in the Bryant Tucker 100 Human Powered Vehicle competition "is the silver lining. ... He died doing what he loved best." 

Mr. Murphy, 51, an engineer at Knowles Electronics in Itasca, died of a heart attack Saturday, July 10, after completing a time trial at a racetrack in Kenosha. 

The 10th annual event was held Saturday and Sunday at the Kenosha Velodrome, and it was the first time the World Recumbent Racing Association recorded times for world-record purposes, Costin said.

Organizers scrapped the 1K race after Mr. Murphy's death, leaving him with the official world record, and renamed the race the Murphy 1K time trial, said his friend Warren Beauchamp.

Beauchamp said Mr. Murphy was in the sprint lane and riding well and had just completed the third and final lap in 1 minute and 46 seconds when he collapsed.

"When Bill crossed the finish line, I looked up and yelled, `Go, Bill, go,'" Beauchamp said. "When I turned around, he had crumpled and died on his bike."

A paramedic on the scene tried to revive Mr. Murphy, said Tim Kemen, director of the Kenosha Velodrome.

Kenosha County Chief Deputy Coroner Rick Berg said Tuesday that Mr. Murphy had a massive heart attack. Berg said Mr. Murphy also had diabetes, which put him at a higher risk for heart disease.

On Sunday, riders rode three laps around the track to honor their friend, Beauchamp said.

Costin, who met Mr. Murphy at local bike races about 15 years ago, said his friend was a wizard with a blowtorch and metal tubing.

"He was a mentor and a tutor and knew how to make our ideas come to life," Costin said. "Yet he didn't want the credit. He was a really private guy."

Mr. Murphy built a three-car garage last year just so he could construct a glider, Beauchamp said. 

In 1991, Mr. Murphy was one of the founding members of a club for riders of the low-slung recumbent bicycles called WISIL HPVers, or Wisconsin Illinois Human Powered Vehicle Riders, he said.

Mr. Murphy's brother Tom noted his younger brother's achievements as an engineer. "He was quite an accomplished scientist in his own sphere," he said.

Other survivors include his father, George; four other brothers, Daniel, Jerald, James and Jon; and three sisters, Susan, Jan and Lynn.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday in Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home, 516 S. Washington St., Naperville. Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Friday in St. Raphael Catholic Church, 1215 Modaff Rd., Naperville.


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