5 bikes from the future

Concept, Guest, Student Design 19 56

Intro from James- This is a guest post from Andreas who writes about cycling in London on his excellent blog London Cyclist. I mentioned him previously when he put together a great list of top 50 cycling blogs, which happened to include Bicycle Design in the #11 spot. I have been extremely busy catching up since my trip, so when Andreas told me that he had an idea for a guest post, I jumped at the chance. You hear from me all the time anytime, so I figured a fresh perspective on the subject of bicycle design would be a welcome change. Andreas didn’t disappoint, so without further ado here is his post about future bicycle designs:

How would you like to cycle across a lake? Or cycle at 60km/hour with the power of the wind? What about taking a more leisurely approach to cycling and lying down while you cycle? All of these are possibilities in the following five bicycle designs that we could one day see next to the Trek section in the bike shop.

Locust bike

This revolution to the folding bike concept is the brainchild of Czech designer Josef Cadek. What makes this bike so different is the large circular frame design that provides the base for the rest of the components to fold into. The design solves the two oldest dilemmas faced by bicycle owners; where should I store my bike and how should I transport it?
The bike is likely to be built out of molded plastic to keep the weight and price low. The designer stated that he didn’t want to use materials such as carbon fiber because it makes the bike too expensive and exclusive. It is hoped the Locust may be on sale before the end of 2010 and with a low enough price point it could see widespread adoption.

Di-Cycle bike

The Di-Cycle can go over land and water. If you do the latter however you are likely to get a bit soaked as it has no exterior shell. What makes it possible to travel on the water is the white base, which is filled with air making it extremely light. The Di-Cycle concept belongs to GBO Design however they have not made any plans known about possible commercial availability of the Di-Cycle.

Zockra recumbent bike

The Zockra is the one bike from this list that you can get hold of now through their website in France. The seating position not only provides us cyclists with a welcome break from the saddle but also it better utilizes the muscles needed to pedal, thus increasing speed. Couple this ideal riding position with the reduced wind resistance and you should be able to reach some pretty impressive speeds. The bike is built using carbon material for lightness. I would say the Zockra is not very suitable in a city environment where motorists are unlikely to spot you at that low level but fantastic for more rural locations. As for the price tag – you can expect to pay around $4,300.

ElleptiGo bike

If you have ever had the pleasure or dread of walking into a gym then you may well have tried the elliptical trainer. The ElliptiGo is a cross between that and a bike. The experience can be likened to running on a bike. The benefit being that you can do your workout outdoors and unlike running there is no impact to the knees. I’m unsure about how the ride will compare to that of a normal bike but the designers have tested it on some pretty epic bike rides with promising results. The bike is due to start appearing on the streets of America before 2010, with an estimated price tag of $1950.

Ventomobil bike

Combine the power of pedaling with the power of the wind and you have one very high-speed vehicle. The Ventomobil has been raced a number of times and has reached speeds up to 60 km/h. Unfortunately its unlikely you will ever be overtaken on the roads by one of these as there are no plans to put it into production.

The truth is that futuristic designs such as these come up frequently but rarely reach the mass production stage. I believe the biggest step forward is the Locust. It takes portability to a new extreme; it’s a kind of a James Bond bicycle, though it doesn’t come with a rocket launcher. It may help reduce the section of the pie that is the non-cyclists – the people that say they don’t cycle because there is nowhere to put their bike. It is great to see that innovation is still coming in the field of bikes as it is far too easy to accept the status quo of the current designs. It seems to be an area accessible to new designers as many of these have come out of university leavers and design competitions. Hopefully, we will one day see the current style of bikes relegated to the museums and exiting fresh new designs take their place. Which one would you most like to ride?

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19 Comments

  1. Anonymous August 19, 2009 at 8:53 pm -  Reply

    The Zockra reminds me very much of a Cruzbike Silvio. Both are outside my budget for a bike, though.

    I also have doubts the Locust bike will go anywhere. I don't think mere moulded plastic has the strength to build a lasting bike. Carbon fiber is used for reasons other than making a frame exclusive and expensive. I'll believe it when I see something beyond a designer's fanciful render.

  2. Anonymous August 19, 2009 at 8:57 pm -  Reply

    For riding across a lake, I would choose an existing design – a Hobie kayak with their MirageDrive. ( http://www.hobiecat.com/kayaking/miragedrive.html ) I have no affiliation with Hobie, but a friend let me borrow one, and I "pedaled" it around a lake – fast and fun. Admittedly it's not road capable, but it's a great inventive design with its flipper propulsion.

  3. Ron August 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm -  Reply

    The design solves the two oldest dilemmas faced by bicycle owners; where should I store my bike and how should I transport it?

    That may be true about the Locust bike, however I'd like to point out first and foremost that is the infrastructure designers of tomorrow who should realize the potential of bikes and provide more storing facilities for cyclists, such as bike racks, shelters and what not in front of public places that people use. You don't need to have a special bike to solve these problems because it is running away from the source of the problem, i.e, getting other people in society to believe in bikes. Besides, just look at the drive train and front ends of the Locust. Every odd bicycle design has a tradeoff. I'm sure you can spot the tradeoffs in this bike by just looking at the pictures. Its like a kid's bike, or a circus bike. Its interesting but it has disadvantages which puts it lower compared to good folders of today.

    Dicycle has to be tested for roll and yaw stability on water. It cannot be given to someone to ride without establishing safety. Besides, you mentioned "dilemmas" of storage and transport when you talked about the Locust. I take it you will apply the same standards to this bike. It cannot be stored well and will be a sort of headache to transport. The fact that you get wet while riding diminishes any of the claimed advantages of this bike. The claims are also hidden from public view.

    Should one have to shell out a $1950 bike to take care of gym paranoia? Its a weird luxury for sure and I see a very very small market for this.

    Ventomobil bikes run on the fancy of wind. What happens when there's little or none? Besides, there are no plans to put it into production so I guess its basically useless.

    When one sees something like "Bikes of the Future", I feel the message implied is that its an improvement over existing ones such that they attract more non-cyclists. This is not the case with a majority of the bikes shown here in this post. Just as an example, can you expect an Elliptigo bike to people's man's commuting problems while putting it side to side with a number of pedal powered alternatives? Most of these designs are drawing book concepts that look and feel good to the designers themselves (most of them don't even ride a bike) and a couple of people in the jury. They aren't really going to solve people's problems by themselves in the future.

  4. Smudge August 19, 2009 at 9:06 pm -  Reply

    "Which one would you most like to ride?"

    Hm… none?

  5. James August 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm -  Reply

    Ron said; "When one sees something like "Bikes of the Future", I feel the message implied is that its an improvement over existing ones such that they attract more non-cyclists"

    Believe it or not Ron, when I first read the title of Andreas' post, I had a feeling that it might illicit such a response from you. I don't necessarily like all of these designs either, but I am glad to see the post already generating some discussion. Remember, discussion is what the blog is all about so keep the reactions coming…positive, negative, or anywhere in between.

  6. GeekGuyAndy August 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm -  Reply

    The Locust is another designers fantasy. Make a frame out of plastic and it will get trashed. Not to mention with all the proprietary parts it requires (wtf is that drivetrain?) it would cost a fortune to fix. The only plastic bike I ever rode was a Big Wheel.

    The DiCycle would be such a pain to get around in. If it's able to ride on land, expect a rough ride while sucking up road debris. On water you can enjoy a crotchfull of water to keep your speed low. Does it also come with a free pickup truck to transport it and an extra garage bay to store it? And just because it's filled with air doesn't make it light…

    Zockra is awesome, assuming you live in a rural enough area to really get this baby up to speed. Don't plan on taking it to pick up groceries though.

    ElleptiGo… because cycling is so knee pounding? Knees only hurt when you pedal too hard on hills, but I'd expect the ElliptiGo to not be capable of climbing hills. Think 50lbs, and no way to pull up like with toe straps or clipless.

    Ventomobile would be like pedaling a small car. I can't imagine it weighs less than a few hundred pounds, and unless you have a steady wind for your entire ride, get ready push 400 watts going 10mph on the flats.

  7. Anonymous August 20, 2009 at 12:26 am -  Reply

    Sorry, but this post is just comical.

  8. Andreas August 20, 2009 at 2:58 am -  Reply

    Hey guys glad to see plenty of responses. Anonymous 1 – yeah the Cruzbike seems like the same concept. Both are likely to only appeal to serious enthusiasts due to the price tag.

    Ron – I agree completely with your first point, more bicycle parking is essential to encourage more people to cycle and to make the experience better for us existing cyclists. Out of interest would you be prepared to pay to use such bicycle parking if it was secure?
    Dicycle – is definitely just a concept bike and I can't see it ever getting adopted due to the problems you mentioned. I hear that one of their designs will also include a bigger base to keep you dry – though I don't think that will help much as it will surely drip down on you.
    "Bikes of the future" – I think all the bikes I have written about here take a good step away from existing designs and that's what makes them interesting. Obviously only time will tell on their long term usefulness. I do think that the Locust has potential and potentially with other materials it could become useful. Some people will have the excuse of "I can't buy a bike it won't fit in my house and it will get stolen outside" obviously if its small enough then that problem is solved, though many of current folding bike range can do this and also it would be wrong to not try and solve the whole bike theft industry.

    GeekGuyAndy – Apologies Andy the article did not imply cycling is knee pounding, running is. From what I see on the manufacturers website it has managed to do some pretty impressive rides, though I can see the scepticism – mind you, you always stand up on your bike when you want that extra push don't you.

    Keep the comments coming, it has been very interesting to read your responses.

  9. Human_Amp August 20, 2009 at 5:10 am -  Reply

    Good blog – thanks for sharing.

    I love the ventmobile – wind power
    (free energy) for bikes, now that IS a Positive thought. Such thoughts and dreams drive innovation.

    Anyone else who windsurfs, sails or paraglides will appreciate this. It is an awsome feeling to be propelled by the natural free energy of the wind.
    Mark

  10. Ron August 20, 2009 at 10:54 am -  Reply

    I agree completely with your first point, more bicycle parking is essential to encourage more people to cycle and to make the experience better for us existing cyclists. Out of interest would you be prepared to pay to use such bicycle parking if it was secure?

    Andreas : Should public bike racks be tolled/charged? Think about it. A cyclist wants to do some grocery shopping or something of that sort but arrives at a big superstore and finds out to his dismay that there are no bike racks anywhere around the building. What is he to do? If I were him, I'd feel pretty discouraged because my other options are tying the bike to fences, sign posts and what not which I don't want to do for the safety of my property. The facility should bear the brunt of costs for putting some bike racks around. The business interest they get from customers as a result of this can pay for the bike racks over time.

    Now in a big city like Tokyo where those underground bike parking facilities are popping up, I understand that to use them, it costs around 95 cents for a single use or 17 dollars for a monthly pass card. The single use figure is much cheaper than what parking meters for cars cost here for an hour or little more (Also remember if you overstay your time limit, you get charged several dollars more) Certainly, I'd pay for a bicycle parking facility like that out of admiration for the technology and personal commitments towards public projects.

  11. Anonymous August 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm -  Reply

    @Andreas
    "Some people will have the excuse of…"

    Some people will always have excuses for not doing things. Since you can't ever please those people, you have to deal with the realities of the bikes that people will use, and the reality is that no plastic bike of any kind has taken off in the adult market. Folding becomes even more of a challenge, so I'm not holding my breath for a 2010 production of the Locust.

    @Ron
    "Should public bike racks be tolled/charged? "

    An interesting parallel can be drawn with the accommodations that cars get compared to bicycles. Businesses seem perfectly willing to pave huge amounts of land to provide free parking for cars, but good luck finding even a junky rack for bikes. The way I see it, I'm already paying for more than what I'm using.

  12. David Hembrow August 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    There are of course already plenty of practical bikes out there which people are using every day. I ride to work and back (30 km from home) in a velomobile and can average just short of 40km/h door to door for the journey.

    A customer at the shop I work in brought in a bike a couple of weeks ago very similar in riding position to the zockra wanting to have new handlebars fitted to give more room as she's pregnant.

    The future is already here (I live in Assen and work in Groningen in the Netherlands – the city with the highest cycling rate in the world).

    It's a different world once you have cycle paths which support fast cycling in all directions. Suddenly bikes which would seem unusable elsewhere become entirely practical.

  13. cycle coaching UK August 21, 2009 at 11:25 am -  Reply

    Where can I get one of those Locusts. That's awesome. No good for racing but you'll cause a few car crashes with rubberneckers! :-)

  14. matula August 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

    none of the above, buy a cheap bike, expensive lock, and put it on the street below where it belongs. that is, for people who complain about lack of space.
    if you are a cyclist you will have spare space for your sport bikes. you'll just get rid of the dog. or wife…. or the refrigerator.

  15. Duncan Watson August 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm -  Reply

    The Zockra can easily be ridden in urban environments. I commute daily on my raptobike, which is a similarly low recumbent bike – photo of me commuting .

    The Cruzbike Silvio is FWD where the Zockra rapid is not and the Zockra rapid is also lower than the Silvio. Here is a picture of me on the left and a cruzbike Silvio on the right – http://www.flickr.com/photos/watson_house/3565169224/in/set-72157618612562069/ . You can see the difference.

  16. Hitchhiker August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm -  Reply

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  17. moratmarit August 25, 2009 at 8:58 am -  Reply

    Woow..beautiful bicyle. I hope this realistic in future.
    moratmarit

  18. Jean January 10, 2010 at 7:33 am -  Reply

    Promising! I hope to see them, ride with them!

  19. soriano_design January 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

    You should check out imperial cycles. They are a custom motorized bicycle company building custom motorized bicycles and selling parts. They are pushing the envelope of bicycles, with a stylings and concepts taken from the past. Getting around 150 mpg, no license and registration (in california), it makes them green, and affordable.

    You can check them out at – http://www.imperialcycles.blogspot.com

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