More bikes in design magazines

Uncategorized 17

Bikes in design mags; that seems to be a reoccurring theme here on Bicycle Design. This week I received my copies of ID Magazine, Innovation, and the DWR Holiday 2007 booklet. Not surprisingly, all of them had bike content.

In ID’s “New and Notable ’07″ issue, they featured the Trek Lime and the Jorg & Olif Oma and Opa bikes. Also, it is worth noting, ID is giving away select products from the issue include a Lime in week 2 of the contest. Read more about it here.

Innovation included the Key bicycle rack and the Cascuz commuter helmet in its 2007 Yearbook of Design Excellence. Elsewhere in the issue was an article about past IDEA winners, which mentioned the Ribbon Rack. That design has no doubt been a commercial success (you see them everywhere), but I am not a big fan of it. In most cases, people lock their bikes sideways against the rack just like they would with an inverted-U design. Though pictures of the rack show several bikes placed in the individual spaces that are formed by the shape, that does not seem to be a practical way to really use it. Two points of contact are required for a bike to be stable against a rack, so most of the Ribbon Racks in existence end up being used just like extended inverted-U racks (not an efficient use of space).

The DWR Gifts Booklet this year features two bicycles. You can order the Biomega AMS or the Electrobike Pi. The latter sells for a whopping 8 grand, making it a pretty expensive Christmas gift by my standards. By the way, if any of you out there are considering buying me an $8,000 bike this year (and I know that is what you were all thinking), I should let you know that the Pi wouldn’t be my first choice.

Metropolis had an online article about the Shimano Coasting equipped Giant Suede DX. They point out some of the bike’s features like the 2 laptop-sized panniers and the front cell phone bag with an integrated light. Read about more features that the bike’s designer pointed out in the article.

Lastly, I want to mention that Bicycle Design will probably not be updated for the next couple of weeks. I will be traveling in China and my access to the web will be limited (my access to Blogger will be even more limited if at all). I will post if I can, but I might not be able to until I return. In the mean time, if you are itching for new content, check out some of the great blogs that I have listed in the sidebar.

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17 Comments

  1. Patrick November 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm -  Reply

    Hi,

    As a person interested in design, and possibly in the field, does it always make you wonder about designs like the Cascuz helmet that seem to be more focused on style than functionality yet win “awards”?

    The “hyper-aerodynamic form required by sport applications” which the description mentions in reference to other helmets, while admittedly overdone in some cases, also has a FUNCTION. The intent of a rounded and smooth helmet is to allow the head to, hopefully, slide over pavement or other surfaces in the event of a crash.

    The Cascuz design contains massive holes with what look like beveled sides. Holes of that size may create various “flat” spots that could catch on the ground surface and twist the neck rather than letting the head slide around. The large holes and beveled sides also seem to be a good way to have any road debris channeled toward your head rather than away.

    The article doesn’t specify what the helmet is intended to be constructed of but if it is the standard EPS foam with a thin, plastic hardshell the design of the front and rear lights is not a good idea. EPS is used as it is intended to crush and deform on impact while the plastic light and metal battery would not and could end up embedded in the wearer’s skull.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

  2. Ron November 3, 2007 at 1:06 am -  Reply

    Our university has a lot of ribbon racks, and I’m not a fan of them either. On one hand, you don’t have stable supports that’ll keep the bikes up. Being the windy place Buffalo is, bikes are apt to tip over and with 10 or 15 bikes in one rack, the whole place is a mess. I’d rather not spoil the ferrari fire red paint on my fixed gear.

  3. bikesgonewild November 3, 2007 at 3:46 am -  Reply

    …interesting to hear others, besides myself aren’t particularly fond of the design of ‘the ribbon’ bike racks…truth be told, they don’t function well…style wise, they are attractive & seemingly adaptable to various architectural styles & so, with those points in mind, rather than ultimate function, planners buy & use them…

    …which brings me around “functional design”…

    …oft times, i’ve found those judging design & lifestyle magazine awards, do not fully understand the needed attributes or inner workings of a particular “function”…

    …case in point, patrick’s mention of a number of legitimate faults in the ‘cascuz’ helmet…the judging criteria here seems to be, “it’s a helmet, so it’s protective (check), it doesn’t make you look like joe racer, so it has niche appeal (check), in fact, it is a nice style (check), it has big holes so it will be cool for riding (check),it has built in lights, so its safer (check)”…all valid from a marketing point of view (check) but completely lacking from logistical necessity…thus “function” has taken on new & unworthy parameters…

    …any way, good post & if someone should forget & give ya an electro-pi for christmas, james, i’ll gladly road test it as my towny, just ta help you out…
    …i’m magnanimous that way…

  4. Fritz November 3, 2007 at 11:15 am -  Reply

    Ugh, that ribbon rack won a design contest?? Unreal.

  5. James November 4, 2007 at 8:10 pm -  Reply

    Good points Patrick. I’m glad you brought those up. I think that as a conceptual idea, lights integrated into a helmet are a good idea, but the primary fuction of the helmet can obviously not be compromised in the process. I would love to hear the designer of the Cascuz address some of the concerns you mentioned.

    I think that, as bikesgonewild pointed out, how well an object performs its primary function is sometimes overlooked in general design contests. It seems like the judges are often just looking for a novel idea rather than a complete solution.

    Anyway, this is a good topic to elaborate on, but I’ll have to save that for later. I have an early (and long) flight in the morning so I need to finish getting ready to go.

  6. bikesgonewild November 9, 2007 at 3:19 pm -  Reply

    …patrick & others, while we wait for the peripatetic james to come to roost…on the subject of design, i’ve always been fascinated w/ good ergonomics & i particularly remember the “businessweek” magazine design awards of maybe 9 years ago…

    …take simple non-powered staple guns, bulky, chrome hand-held devices that have been around for years…the activating handle has always pivoted from the front & therefore the “actual” applied motion (down & back) countermands the “needed” applied motion (down & forward) which ensures a solid, flat staple application…

    …if you’ve ever used one in any form of carpentry or household chore, you know they’ve been less than efficient…

    …some intelligent person re-engineered the concept by simply putting the pivot at the back & as soon as you saw it, your immediate though was “he nailed it, that’s how it ought to work”…he then designed a simple yet attractive casing & he was gold…

    …not only won an award but more importantly, one of the major tool companies immediately bought his design…

    …a simple intelligent ergonomic design…whose working application just looked ‘right’, at first glance…

  7. patrick November 9, 2007 at 9:52 pm -  Reply

    bikesgonewild,

    I totally agree with you on the stapler example. The result was truly form following function.

    Something in the bike world that I have always thought was a good example is this:

    http://www.castellanodesigns.com/fango.html

    The non-standard look of the chainstays is due solely to their role in creating a solution to a problem; providing a light weight, very low maintenance rear suspension system. To me, the “coolness” of this frame is the way that the specific properties of the material are used by the engineer to create the solution. Kind of the opposite of designs where I think the “icing” is considered more important than the “cake”.

  8. bikesgonewild November 9, 2007 at 11:15 pm -  Reply

    …absolutely, patrick, ab-so-lutely, as soon as i noticed castellanodesigns, i was agreeing w/ you, before i even finished reading…ya, the simplified application of a complicated thought process is fascinating…

    …the lightweight shaped stays compensate for torque twist while offering a ‘balanced’, aligned vertical compliance, utilizing as you mentioned, the metals natural properties…a multi-faceted creative solution…

    …i don’t know john well, but we’ve talked through the years at events & beyond his obvious intelligence, he’s a very genuine person…

    …briefly back to the stapler…i’m glad you’re familiar w/ that one…
    …it made a real impression on me although i’ve seen more “impressive” functional designs…

  9. Anonymous November 11, 2007 at 10:50 am -  Reply

    The Pi bike is garbage. Look at that front disc mount! They simply took a (cheap) raked fork, turned it around, clamped a (plastic) shroud around it and what did they get? Man instead of the rotor forces pushing the caliper into the fork, and away from the bolt heads, the two bolts now take ALL on the heavy forces. That would fail quickly. At least you would look cool with a smashed face.

    Design Without Regard.

  10. Art November 11, 2007 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

    bikesgonewild:
    The stapler reminds me of a story from back in the days when the striking pads were on the insides of match books. An obvious fire hazard. After months spent trying to figure out a safer solution, a major match company put up a sizable cash award for ideas. At that point, a lone visionary walked in and simply told them to move the pad to the outside of the book. Being blindingly obvious is the mark of all good ideas.

    Anonymous 10:50:
    I believe the idea of the front brake on the Pi bike was to keep the braking moment from trying to eject the wheel from the dropouts. This is a very real risk, as the average consumer isn’t going to be big on checking their skewer before every ride. A good idea in theory, but I also wouldn’t want to try it with standard sized post bolts.

  11. Anonymous November 11, 2007 at 12:38 pm -  Reply

    I don’t think so. They obviously wanted the arc of the fork to look the way it does.’Patent Pending Arc’ you know. Look at the front caliper set up… it’s terrible in a number of ways. It would fail quickly.

  12. bikesgonewild November 11, 2007 at 5:42 pm -  Reply

    …design w/o regard…i was seized by the cool, curved organic look…

    …i see the pi-bike as an interesting but hugely expensive design exercise but certainly not garbage…you’re absolutely right as regards the front brake mounting the way it stands, but there are no insurmountable problems that couldn’t be re-engineered, as the fork, like the frame is a fabricated aluminum piece…

    …i was immediately reminded of the confederate motor (cycle) co.’s ‘wraith’ which features that same large diameter, curved backbone…but w/out suspension considerations here, the logical design conclusion was to extend the curve down to each dropout…

    …anyway, at 8g’s, i’m not expecting the pi to be my new town & grocery bike, but i do like the look…

    …art, unfortunately, as we all know, “being blindingly obvious” is often neither the foremost nor the final conclusion to many ideas…even good designers have the occasional “doh” lapse…

  13. Art November 12, 2007 at 9:00 am -  Reply

    I can’t see nearly enough detail on those photos to say that the brake would fail quickly. There’s no reason why a fork can’t be designed to handle the load. Reverse mounting is going to cause long term durability issues with the caliper body, but I can’t say how long. The stresses could however be drastically reduced by using a larger rotor.

  14. bikesgonewild November 12, 2007 at 6:30 pm -  Reply

    …of a bigger concern than most engineering foibles, which could be countered, are the prices…starting @ 7,500 simoleons for the pedal /electric is steep but $17,500 for the pi ‘x’ is another story…a 40cc 4-stroke & a 48v electric motor w/ regenerative braking will give you a lotta mpg but w/ no suspension, ouch…
    …$17,500 is enough long green to buy a nice buell or ducati & although they leave a bigger carbon footprint, & aren’t as economical, the pi is still hard to justify…how much self amortizing can you handle ?…

    …next time i go into town, i’d like to stop in & check out their set-up…electric bikes are kind of a guilty pleasure if you’ve ever ridden one…newbie on his ‘nago has gotta pedal REAL hard to get away & yer not even sweating…

    …anyway, on a similar electric note is that china is now concerned about the many millions of electric bikes being sold & the resultant lead pollution that is occurring…i assume that can be countered by the various newer forms of batteries now being utilized…

    …it isn’t always practical, in this day & age, but nothing beats pedaling…

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