Bendable bike

Concept, Student Design 13 72

A few days ago, Carlton Reid tipped me off to this London Daily Mail article, which features a bike design by Kevin Scott, a young UK based designer. To address the rising problem of bicycle theft (according to the article, more than 52 bikes are stolen in London every day), Mr. Scott designed a bike that literally “wraps around a lamp post so it can be locked-up safely – without the need for a lock or chain.” A ratchet system built into the top and down tubes allows the frame to bend when a lever on the seat tube is released.

It seems like an interesting concept, but honestly I would probably be a bit nervous at cruising speed knowing that an accidental flip of that big switch would turn the frame into an uncontrollable mess of noodle like tubes. Maybe there could be a fail-safe to keep the switch from working while the bike is moving. I am sure there are many other issues that need to be addressed before a concept like this could become a real product, but that is what the product design development stage is for. For now, Mr. Scott has an interesting idea that I believe is worth further exploration.

Scott’s concept is a runner-up in the UK’s Business Design Centre New Designer of the Year Award. The Core77 blog also posted about this design and they point out that he is dumping the award money back into the project for further development. That is good to hear. I’ll look forward to seeing the next iteration of his design.

Image credit: Tony Kyriacou/Rex Features via Core77

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13 Comments

  1. Matt July 9, 2010 at 10:49 am -  Reply

    Just have to make sure nobody official sees the bike and assumes it’s wrecked!

  2. Andrew July 9, 2010 at 11:37 am -  Reply

    I like the fundamental concept, but like you, I’ve got some structural concerns.

    I’m totally fine with using a cable-tensioned tube (or even just a cable!) as the downtube, since it only sees tension loads, the top tube is heavily loaded in compression, and we all know what happens when you push on a rope. You end up with a tube that is really just a series of unconnected pipes pushing against each other, relying on the friction to avoid any sideways shear. If the tube sections were puzzle-cut, or otherwise interfaced with each other, that would definitely help to allay my structural concerns. And this isn’t going to be a high performance bike, anyway, so a bit of extra weight is no big deal.

    • James T July 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm -  Reply

      Good points. Your comment about using a using a cable-tensioned tube made me think about the old Slingshot frames from the 80s and 90s, which did just that. The Biomega designed Puma frame with an integrated frame lock that came out several years ago always reminded me of those Slingshot designs, and that bike was similar in general concept to this one. If a bike thief were to cut the lock, which was a structural part of the frame, he would render the bike unridable.

  3. Byron July 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm -  Reply

    The concept already exists and it was called the Slingshot and now made by Biomega for Puma.

    • James T July 9, 2010 at 7:54 pm -  Reply

      I mentioned both of those bikes in the comment above. The Puma bike looks similar to the old Slingshots, but it uses a rod (as part of the frame lock feature) instead of a tension cable in place of the downtube.

  4. Ross Nicholson July 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm -  Reply

    A simple nylon cable tie could assure the lever is not actuated. Of course, you’d need to carry a pocket knife and some spares. This is a great idea for collapsable bicycles and should be explored.

    • Richard Masoner July 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

      Instead of cable ties, I thought of using a cam for the lever something like quick release levers. Folding bicycles already use them to lock their frames in place, and we don’t typically worry about a Dahon falling apart in midst of a ride.

      • Ross Nicholson July 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

        Um, yeah, I should make better jokes.

  5. Euro Biker July 12, 2010 at 6:55 am -  Reply

    It looks really interesting and fun, but after all it seems like a good study or design geek…
    But… I will be really concerned about my safety if I ride on this bike. Also I can not see how this bike will be theft proof. If thieves can pick any lock they probably will figure out how to still this bike too.
    The best way to protect bicycles is to leave it in the protected area…

  6. Mike July 12, 2010 at 9:53 am -  Reply

    So the idea is that a heavy, jingus design obviates the need to carry a 4lb lock that could also secure the wheels? This is pure, unadulterated genius.

    James, you need to create a section of this blog where you hand out the Dr. Bunsen Honeydew Awards for inventions that solve nonexistent problems, with bonus points for danger to the rider. This would at least be an honorable mention.

    • Dave Cherling August 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm -  Reply

      Exactly. Frame secure and still there when you come back, wheels long gone.

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