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A lot of great bike design content has popped up on the web in the week or so that I haven’t been posting. I won’t elaborate, but I want to quickly pass along a few of the interesting things that I have seen lately.

First, of course, is The North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which just wrapped up in San Jose, CA. Cycling News has posted a lot of pictures from the show. Several bloggers also covered the event. Fritz from Cyclelicious wrote about it and posted some pictures to his Flickr set. Jonathon from Bike Portland was also there to see the many Portland based builders that were exhibiting. Gene from Biking Bis posted about several others who wrote about the show. The pictures shown here came from a Hypebeast post that I saw via Biking Bis.

Speaking of Hypebeast, check out their recent post of a bike that Wilson Brothers designed for a Nike Air Force 1 “Silver Service” installation in London.

Swobo’s bikes are out now. Graham wrote about them recently and pointed to a Dirt Rag interview with Sky Yaeger, who was responsible for developing the bike line.

Phil posted about the new commuter oriented bike from Mercedes.

Gene pointed me toward a folding bike concept on SciFi.com. Does anyone out there care to explain how this thing works? It looks cool, but the steering and drivetrain systems appear to rely on some mysterious future technology.

Michael Young designed an urban bike for Giant called the Citystorm. This bike has some really nice details. It probably deserves its own post rather than being buried here, but I don’t have time right now. Do take a look at it here and here.

OK, that’s it for new bicycles, but wait, there is more. Nadejda posted about the London based “Reinventing the Bike Shed”, design competition and We make money not art had an interesting post about the Human Powered Workshop in Belgium. I could go on, but I think this post is starting to suffer from link overload. I’ll be back next week. Have a great weekend everyone.

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9 Comments

  1. Phil March 7, 2007 at 4:08 pm -  Reply

    On the scifi bike, (my guess) the bottom bracket spindle has teeth to make it a gear, which then turns a large gear or toothed belt (like on the old Bridgestone belt-drive city bikes) inside the rear cylinder, which then either turns a series of gears to work its way down the “chain stays”, or it directly turns the wheel. As for steering, the front cylinder is on a pivot with the square that connects it to the other cylinder. This is problematic, since you would have to move the front cyl into the path of your leg if you wanted to pedal while turning.

    I can’t wait until these come free with the purchase of a flying car :)

  2. James March 7, 2007 at 4:47 pm -  Reply

    Phil, I think you are probably right about the drivetrain. It sounds complicated but plausible. The steering still puzzles me. I realize that the front end probably pivots at that grey box, but I still don’t believe that geometry would actually work. It looks like the handlebars line up directly above the front hub. If the pivot point for the steering is in the middle of the frame right above the bottom bracket, I just don’t believe the bike would be ridable (at least not easily ridable). I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t be convinced otherwise unless I could ride a prototype.

  3. michael March 7, 2007 at 5:30 pm -  Reply

    On the subject of the Giant Citystorm Bike I had the pleasure of sitting in with Michael Young (the designer) and the team at Giant’s Techno Center (a sort of Taiwanese Skunk Works) in presentations and crits of the aforementioned bike. Michael Young has quite a unique approach to design and despite being a ‘rockstar’ designer was very receptive and sensitive to the traditions (and limitations) of the bicycle industry. I think it speaks volumes of the final design that it is still recognizably a bicycle and not some fanciful ‘concept’ exercise. Michael’s aim was always to create a truly viable product with great attention to detail. I think this will go down a storm in Europe however I can already hear the howls of protest from American dealers at having to sell a bike with all the accessories already included.

  4. michael March 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm -  Reply

    On the subject of the folding bike on the Sci-Fi blog the contrast between the Giant Citystorm and this sad and dismal concept couldn’t be greater. The former is a beautiful and functional machine ready to hit the road and the latter is an empty, ill-conceived, half-cocked exercise in form development. But at least it looks ‘cool’ and so the designer gets their brief fifteen minutes of fame.

  5. James March 8, 2007 at 9:46 am -  Reply

    Michael, there is definitely a world of difference between a well-designed product that solves a problem or addresses a user need and a flashy computer rendered styling exercise. Unfortunately, the latter is what defines the profession of industrial design in the minds of many. Too many people think of design as an extra layer on a product that just makes it look cool, really nothing more than form. Styling has its place, but product design is much more than that. I think that the contrast you pointed out does a good job of illustrating that point.

  6. Phil March 8, 2007 at 5:05 pm -  Reply

    I actually don’t think it would be terrible to ride, at least not as hard as a swing bike. I think to steer, you only need to be able to turn the front wheel at an angle relative to the back wheel. I think you would steer by keeping your arms aligned and twisting your upper body rather than by moving your arms closer and farther away as with a normal bike.

    I’ll also play devil’s advocate here, and offer a bit of a defense. The design constaint for the scifi bike was “make a bike where the wheels fit inside the frame, and it ‘s the size of two hat boxes”. There’s no way to that with a traditional design. Brompton and Bike Friday come close, but not that close. The designer isn’t suggesting that this is how all bikes should be built, it’s just a neat exercise in design. And it’s the neat exercises that actually push design forward, since someone else will look at it and say “that’s interesting, but, a ah!, I have a similar idea that’s more practical!” It takes these whacky concept designs to progress to real ones, so I’m all for it.

  7. Fritz March 9, 2007 at 12:16 pm -  Reply

    One Bike: Balancing a bike depends on the caster effect of the front wheel — balance is automatic becaue the wheel steers into a fall, correcting the fall.

    With the mid-frame pivot of the One Bike, the front wheel will tend to wobble back and turn *away* from the fall, making the fall that much faster. Think of a wobbly shopping cart wheel or look at the casters on your desk chair, and that’s what the front wheel of this bike will do.

  8. James March 9, 2007 at 12:46 pm -  Reply

    Thanks Fritz, that is why I said “not easily ridable” referring to this bike. I have seen homemade chopper bikes that are technically ridable, but the steering is far from efficient.

    Phil, I appreciate the devil’s advocate viewpoint. You are absolutely right that exercises in design have their place, so I should probably clarify what I meant. I love to see “blue sky” concepts like the One Bike. Sometimes concepts like that do spark ideas that lead to great new products. To me, those concepts are an integral part of the design process. It is important to free your mind at the beginning of a project and sketch all of the ideas that you can dream up. Some of them will work and others will not, but refining and developing the ideas comes later. Wacky concept designs are great, but they are just that; concepts, not developed product designs. Crazy blue sky concepts are fun to work on, fun to look at, and fun to think about. They definitely have their place. I just don’t want anyone to think that creating cool forms and flashy renderings is what design is all about.ebssq

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