Eric Staller’s Conference Bike

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Conference Bike, originally uploaded by the Rested Traveler.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen the pictures I posted of people riding our local Conference Bike this past weekend. One of the bike shops here in Greenville, TTR Bikes, owns that CoBi and generously allows Bikeville (a local bike advocacy initiative that I am a part of) to use it for various events. People in Greenville are getting used to seeing the big red Conference Bike around town from time to time, but it still never fails to generate attention and excitement when it is cruising down Main Street. If you ever get the chance to ride one you should…it is a lot of fun.

The Conference Bike was designed in the mid nineties by Eric Staller, an American artist and inventor who is currently based in Amsterdam. The 400 lb. + bike (well really trike…or quadracycle if you count the two rear wheels that are right together) is made in Germany to Staller’s specifications. It seats 7 people in a ring, but only the driver can steer or operate the hydraulic brakes. I won’t go into much detail about the CoBi, but you can read more about it on the website if you are interested.

The CoBi was not Staller’s first pedal powered creation. If you look at the Urban UFOs section of his website, you can see a few of his previous bike based projects like Bubbleheads (1987) and OCTOS (1990), an eight person pedal powered machine which led to the development of the CoBi. You can also see the Lovebike (2000), which came along after the CoBi and is basically a 5 person heart shaped version of it. For more about Staller’s work, check out his book, “Out of My Mind”, which is available on his webstore of the same name.

The conference bike is definitely an oversized conversation piece, but I think it serves a greater purpose than that. Riding it around town and at events like the one this past weekend gives us the opportunity to talk to people who otherwise might not be interested in cycling or bike issues. Everyone is curious when they see something like this, so when offered a free ride most people are quick to jump onboard. Some of those people may have not ridden a bike since they were kids, but they always have a smile on their face when they step off of the CoBi. As a tool for promoting bicycling as fun (not just green) activity, I think it is great. Every city should have one.

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9 Comments

  1. James November 11, 2009 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

    Great video, Marc! It looks like you guys were having a lot of fun on that ride…especially toward the end. Next time I am in Amsterdam, I definitely want to take a CoBi ride through the city.

  2. Phil November 12, 2009 at 9:54 am -  Reply

    Do they wear their helmets on the bus too?

  3. Anonymous November 12, 2009 at 11:45 am -  Reply

    read that Alfred College in western NY bought one of these to take prospective students on their campus tours…

  4. James November 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm -  Reply

    Phil, that's me in the driver's seat. I can't speak for everyone in the picture, but no, I don't usually wear a helmet on the bus. Seriously though, the people at the city prefer that we wear helmets on the CoBi while participating in events, so I respect that.

  5. dudeonabike November 12, 2009 at 8:28 pm -  Reply

    Agreed it's a blast. Even a hardcore bike commuter like me, I couldn't wipe the stupid smile off my face the entire time I was on it. Great social fun. Bikes ftw!

  6. Motorcycle Cover November 18, 2009 at 10:17 am -  Reply

    This is the good blog with good images and good details. Please keep on posting the more stuff. I will like to hear more from you.

  7. Michael February 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm -  Reply

    Now this is kinda funny.. I worked at a Roam for a while. He made this bicycle also in like 1996. go to the site http://www.roam.nl/ and click "het Bedrijf"

  8. D Aliga February 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm -  Reply

    Wow…

    At least you have the manpower if you bike a long distance.

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