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  1. nicolas June 4, 2010 at 6:25 am -  Reply

    That’s impressive work. But with the high centre of gravity, teeny wheels, and feet-forward position, is it really safer than a regular upright city bike for commuting?
    Maybe it’s just because I’m not American, but the notion of getting people on bikes through seating them like they’re in a car depresses the hell out of me. It looks more like a pedal boat to me though, which I guess is good for a beach cruiser. Still wouldn’t commute on it.

  2. Andrew June 4, 2010 at 10:19 am -  Reply

    I very much like the idea of semi-recumbents, because you can get an efficient riding position while still being able to securely put both feet down at stop lights – with upright bikes, 90% of people just ride with the seat too low so that they can do it anyway, compromising efficiency and risking injury.

    Nicolas – see RANS bikes for big-wheel, high-performance semi-recumbents. I’ve never had a chance to ride anything like them, but they look like they’d be great.

  3. thomasb June 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    Doesn’t look like it would work on any Bus bike-rack I have ever used. For a city bike I think that would be a dealbreaker for myself.

    Aside from the looks(I don’t think I could ever convince my mom or my girlfriend to ride this) the position is terrible for climbing even the smallest hill, which in all but one city I have ever lived in is a regular concern.

  4. James T June 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm -  Reply

    Interesting to see the comments here.

    Nicolas said “with the high centre of gravity, teeny wheels, and feet-forward position, is it really safer than a regular upright city bike for commuting?”

    That is a good question; maybe Nick can explain further why he chose to go in that direction with his concept. I do know that companies like Giant and Electra have been successful with foot forward bike designs, but those bikes are fairly traditional in appearance. Many people who are new to cycling as adults are more comfortable with a bike if they can place their feet flat on the ground while seated, but they still want something that looks like what they think of as a bicycle. I think that is part of the reason that bikes like the Townie have been so successful, and it is part of the challenge with a design that is very different in form.

  5. Nick June 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm -  Reply

    Hey! Thanks for all of the comments!

    With regards to the high center of gravity – the center of gravity on this bike is actually lower than any traditional bicycle. For a given rider height, the saddle is about two inches lower than it would be on a traditional bike due to the crank-forward position, and due to the frame design, most of the weight of the frame (and anything that might be carried) is also much lower than it would be on a traditional bike. Beyond that, the riding position gives you a much greater visibility and comfort while traveling through the city. A person who was testing out the bike today said something like “You lose the feeling of navigating through the streets; you’re so aware of everything around you that it feels like you’re just moving through the city. ” If you’ve ever ridden a nice dutch bicycle, it’s something like that, although even more relaxed and comfortable.

    About the looks – I really was unsure of how people were going to respond to it. I knew I had to make some aesthetically unfavorable decisions in order to produce it on my own… but I tried to keep it looking elegant through color and material. So far, however, everyone who has seen it has been ecstatic about the way it looks (Women and non-cyclists really seem to love it… w00t blue ocean!) If I do end up being able to produce more in a factory with better machines, I have many re-designs in mind to make it nicer looking.

    With regards to hill-climbing… I hear this brought up a lot with recumbents and semi-recumbents, and honestly I don’t think it is a valid arguement. People say they like to be able to stand up to pedal up a hill because they can “use their body weight” to get up the hill… but that isn’t really true. Standing up changes the muscle groups you use, it doesn’t somehow give you additional energy from the weight of your body. A semi-recumbent position inherently makes you “stand up to pedal” because it uses much larger muscle groups and you have a backrest on the seat which you can press against. (everyone knows how strong they feel when they leg press a ton of weight at the gym. Mostly the same muscle group.) All that being said, however, this prototype IS geared for a mostly-flat eastern city. That is due to the chainring and cog sizes, as well as the gear range in the internal hub. For a version that were to be used in a city with hills, a modification would be made to the drivetrain to allow a bigger range – I think a cassette combined with an internal hub is an interesting solution.

    And to thomasb, about bus-rack compatability… I’m working on it. I agree, that’s an important thing to have.

  6. Nick June 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm -  Reply

    Oops, all that writing, and I forgot the most important part.

    If anyone who reads this blog is in the city and would like to come give it a test ride, contact me and you can come check it out!

  7. nicolas June 5, 2010 at 3:43 am -  Reply

    Thanks for checking in! Interesting information, especially the user XP. I’m just a total retrogrouch who wouldn’t dream of commuting on something else than a classic Danish city bike, so I’m red-ocean, guilty as charged. Can you tell us more about the transmission (chain) design? It looks well thought-out (though not enclosed, which would bee good for a commuter but is probably pretty hard to fit on a recumbent).

    • greenobike June 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm -  Reply

      It differs enough from the standard diamond frame to demonstrate creativity that’s more than just aesthetic. Sort of a cross between a Giant Revive and an 8 Freight. Reminds me of my own submission for the commuter design contest here way back when.
      Kudos especially for building a functional prototype – way more impressive (and more difficult) than the drawings and renderings and visual-only prototypes most often seen. Take it from someone who designs and builds functional prototypes (unfortunately not bicycles) for work. Best detail? The high taillight.
      With regard to the low cg, recumbent design – low cg is great for cargo. For the rider – in any city – acceleration from a dead stop and maneuverability in traffic are more important than cg. I’ve seen people on recumbents who seem to have no problem, but I, myself, cannot accelerate or maneuver well enough to feel comfortable on my recumbent in heavy city traffic.
      I agree with everyone else regarding hills and bus racks and chain guards. And I know my wife would ask about fenders and how it rides when wearing a dress or skirt. Overall, great job. Good luck, and I’m looking forward to future designs.

  8. Human_Amplifier June 7, 2010 at 7:06 am -  Reply

    Well done Nick ! I like the way you’ve made it light and LOOK light (unlike revive et al), obvious and integral luggage space is also a real plus – Great Blue-Ocean design !

    Ergonomists have for a long time pointed out that: the crouched forward riding position – actually a BAD posture (except for racing). The snag is these (professional body posture) voices are drowned out by bicycle racing professionals …. have you ever been for a bicycle fitting ? even the jigs don’t adjust for upright riding positions ! 🙂

  9. Adam Smith June 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm -  Reply

    god it’s so nice to see design student do something other than a funky render with spokeless wheels. their is loads of good thinking here, and most all of it looks based on the basic science of cycling. (And lord knows I’ve been waiting years for someone to make a small wheeled semi-longtail) My few little thoughts or niggles are below.

    -different size wheels are inconvenient and just look a bit poo.
    -the BB over the front wheel looks awkward and it could pretty easily hit the front wheel.
    -chain pulleys just add complexity and inefficiency and it’s taking away from the elegance of the design.
    -I’m not going to get into the holy war of recumbents v uprights, but this frame to me looks like its begging to be made into a situp-and-beg. the worlds broadest bike cultures have all flourished with that riding posture and I think your design would be just as strong if you adopted it. Move the BB back and down, maybe stretch the wheelbase slightly and increase the front wheel, and I think you’d have an instant classic.

  10. Wytze June 11, 2010 at 10:16 am -  Reply

    Nice photos on your site and a fun way to harden your frames! To bad I don’t live nearby, would like to try it.
    It is hard to believe she can reach the ground with her feet. (but maybe that is an optical illusion?) Here is a configuration that takes the rider a bit closer to the ground:
    OKE JA
    from the Dutch recumbent manufacturer

  11. Erik June 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm -  Reply

    I think its a great bike for its purpose. I like the riding position and understand why it was designed that way. It wouldn’t be a bike I’d be likely to shop for but that’s cool, I’m not the demographic. Nice work, Nick, I hope you’ve gotten alot of interest on this design and major kudos to you for actually building it rather than making pretty drawings of it (not that there’s anything wrong with pretty drawings but they are much harder to ride!).

  12. ConorC June 13, 2010 at 11:43 am -  Reply

    Fair play Nick, I think this is one of the more promising designs posted by James in regard to the Blue Ocean debate. Though the Beick, Batavus BUB, Dutchess and IF Mode are pretty neat too.

    In the interest of visually simplifying the design, could the rear basket be curved back to become more of a rear mudguard (ref. the Dutchess). Details like routing cables in the frame might help. And some way of enclosing the chain like Sander’s X-Bike would make an improvement too. I also think the handlebars could be curved back a good bit like on dutch bikes, as the cyclist’s arms look a bit stretched in the photos.

    What would people think if disc rather than spoked wheels were used? At that size I don’t think the wind would be too big an issue and it could give a canvas for more personal designs as well as helping with visibility. I might be going out on a limb on this but I think discs could be perceived as less threatening than spoked wheels, but maybe I’m just being daft…?

    Anyway, every success with it.

  13. Steve June 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm -  Reply

    As a former Industrial designer and current custom framebuilder, I APPLAUD you for coming up with a practical, working design!

    I always have concerns about smaller front wheels and potholes, but I doubt that this is a major issue for most. I’d like to see an expandable cargo area, because it looks like the design could handle even more load back there. And I encourage you to consider folding/collapsing ideas to help those city-dwellers store this thing in the apartment. Think about a simple/cheap attachment to hang/hide it in an unconventional/unused location, perhaps.

    And when my ideas pay off big, send me one 😉

  14. Charlie June 18, 2010 at 11:10 pm -  Reply

    This is the best non-traditional bike design that I’ve seen posted here. It’s different for good reasons, not just for the sake of being different. Congratulations.

  15. ConorC June 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm -  Reply

    Just saw this from Eric Stoddard, maybe I’ve missed it in other posts.

    Some interesting contrasts and comparisons. Eric’s wheelbase looks shorter which would be handy and the transmission looks a little less complicated if it works, pedaling up around a bend might be a challenge. But I prefer how the cargo is under the seat on Nick’s and the smaller saddle could be just as comfortable. Would be pretty interesting to give both a go…

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