You may remember the Cannondale Dutchess concept bike, which was designed by Wytze van Mansum a few years ago. That bike was a student project, but after his graduation Wytze was contacted by two entrepreneurs, Gerald van Weel and Jorrit Kreek, and asked to design an updated bakfiets. Wytze points out that what really interested him about the project was the aim… “ to replace the 2nd car”.
After 9 months of design work and testing, they presented a pre-production prototype of the electric assist ‘Urban Arrow’ and were nominated for a Eurobike award. If you are at Eurobike this week, you will see Wytze’s prototype (pictured here) on display at the entrance to the show. He points out that the prototype is just that, so some of the parts are not up to the final production standard. “The production box will come from a single mold, providing a smooth surface. The box seen in this pre-production model is milled from different plates of the material. The chaincase will eventually be fully closed and a hub dynamo will power the lights. And of course it still needs some decals.”
Wytze described the bike’s features to me in detail, so I want to pass along much of that description in his own words (with minor edits from me):
“-Assisted: With the electric assist you can get around a busy town faster than by car, taking with you up to 180kg of cargo and without sweating (Not everybody has the legs of a pro cyclist, after all). We chose a mid engine; powering the cranks. This way the power is on the correct wheel (rear) and the bike has a closed chain case with maintenance free reliable hub gear. An additional advantage is that the motor also profits from the gears, like in a car. Put it in first gear and you can ride up any hill effortlessly. I am very pleased with our engine choice; this thing is simply a silent beast.
- Lightened: It has a stiff aluminum frame with a lightweight EPP cargo box. EPP is a recyclable, but durable foam. A bit like what the inside of your helmet is made of, except that this stuff won’t break on impact. 60mm (2.5″) of high dense foam adds some extra safety.
- Practical: Gerald and Jorrit both ride their young children around by bike in Amsterdam, as do all of their friends. So we had an extensive list of things we’d wanted to add to the practicality of the bakfiets. Things like:
- A rain cover that is always present on the bike (in the future it will cover the parent also). Designed by Renske Solkesz
- Easy access in and out for the children
- Cup holders and a grocery net
- A fixed bolted seatpost (to prevent saddle theft) that still can be easily adjusted in height
- A removable box, transforming it to a flat-bed cargo bike.
- Comfortable (and more puncture proof) balloon tires
Design: For the design, I have tried to get more unity throughout the whole bike, and like the Dutchess, most of the forms originate simply from logic. The frame encapsulates the motor and chain, creating a unique frame design. The curved tubes around the top of the box are for protection of the box and of children fingers hanging over the rim of the box. They also provide storage room for the rain cover poles and a lock or pump. Because the box is made in a mold we were able to incorporate some fun functionalities like the cup holders.”
The prototype looks great, and I am looking forward to seeing this bike in production. The website for the Urban Arrow is not up yet, but it will be later this week (update 9/5: The website is now active at www.urbanarrow.com). Check back for more information about the bike…and look for it at Eurobike if you are in Friedrichshafen.