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Urban concept bikes, a watch, and an e-velomobile

Commuter, Electric bike, Student Design 12 1669

I am busy working in China this week, so I haven’t had the chance to post anything on the blog. I do want to quickly pass a long a couple of interesting things before I get started today though.

Jukka Kalliomäki is an industrial design graduate student at Lund University in Sweden. His thesis project is pretty interesting…it is a urban bicycle which features a push rod drive train concept with 2:1 ratio. You can see several of Jukka’s bicycle designs based on his drive system on his website.

Mr. Jones Watches has released a new limited edition watch that was designed with two time hour record breaker (and bicycle innovator) Graeme Obree. Check out “The Hour” watch here, and see a video interview with Obree here.

Finally, I want to mention the Sinclair X1 semi enclosed electric recumbent, which will sell for £595 (under 1,000 dollars). Though pedaling doesn’t seem to be the primary source of power (it has a 190 watt MCR pancake motor), it does have pedal assist (much better than all of the “electric bicycles” I have seen in China this week with no pedals at all). At the price point, the X1 seems like a great urban transportation solution for a lot of people. I would certainly like to try one out. Read more and watch the video at Autoblog Green and TreeHugger.

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  1. Steve November 19, 2010 at 6:07 am -  Reply

    The urban bike looks like a facinating design.
    Any chance this will go into production?

  2. Marcio Barbeto Menezes November 19, 2010 at 6:22 am -  Reply

    Very good posts in your blog!!!
    I am a bike designer as well. If you can, take a look at my lastest designs on the site:
    It’s gonna be a pleasure for me, if you post something about then in your blog!!
    See you.
    Marcio Barbeto – Brazil

  3. Andrew November 22, 2010 at 12:30 am -  Reply

    Those are all interesting designs. You’ve been on a roll lately with your link posts, lots of really fascinating stuff.

    I’m not sure if Jukka’s drive mechanism is actually superior in any valid way, but it sounds like he’s at least considered the technical challenges of making it work, and it’s definitely novel, and has an elegant simplicity to it. Great aesthetic exploration, too.

  4. Mike November 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm -  Reply

    That recumbent + stiff crosswind = Darwin award.

    The pushrod design is laughably impractical — there’s no way to build a hub that is anchored on one side and taking drive force from the other without it being impossibly heavy, and it would chew through bearings like nobody’s business. Inadequate stiffness in this element would cause the brake to rub with each pedal stroke. I’m not sure when it became acceptable for industrial design students to put out material that doesn’t give the slightest thought to engineering. If they care nothing for practicality they should be in fashion design, not industrial design.

    • Andrew November 23, 2010 at 5:57 pm -  Reply

      Excuse me? You’ve never seen a cantilevered axle before? As on every single automobile ever produced? On nearly all modern motorcycles? On Mike Burrows’ bicycles, on folding bikes, the Cannondale ON BIKE.

      Frankly, your knee-jerk evaluation is not only incorrect, but has blinded you to any virtue the concept might have.

      • mommus November 25, 2010 at 11:25 am -  Reply

        I would have to say that Mike is broadly correct. The leverage exerted on the mounting point of the axle would be huge.

        Andrew, every example you’ve used there, particularly the Canondale On Bike and motorcycles, have the drive on the same side as the mounting point. So the resultant leverage is much less (not multiplied by the entire length of the axle, as in the cycle above). In the example of a car, the drive again comes from the same side as the mounting point (or main bearing)

        • Andrew November 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

          Fair enough.

          Solution: move the fixed stay to the same side as the drive mechanism, or extend the supported width of the axle on the non-drive side drop-out by an inch or so. That was hard.

          Honestly, I’m just irked by comments by armchair engineers who would rather fold their arms and point out the glaring intellectual inadequacies of others, rather than spend the exact same amount of time saying “hey, that’s a neat idea – it probably wouldn’t work as it’s shown, but the designer could do ____ instead!”

          The former mindset rarely, if ever, leads to novel developments.

        • Andrew November 26, 2010 at 1:05 pm -  Reply

          By the way – for another example, take a look at a pedal spindle. See where it’s supported (and by how little). See where the force is being applied.

          Weigh the spindles on some bomb-proof downhill pedals. “Impossibly heavy,” right?

          • Mommus November 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm -  Reply

            I’m with you on the armchair engineer thing. I’m surprised the designer didn’t put a similar cam on the rear ‘cog’ as the front one, and attach it all on the other side. I’m sure the frame could be designed around its motion. Anyway, it makes you think in a different way, which I suppose is important

  5. Johann Rissik November 30, 2010 at 2:21 am -  Reply

    Interesting design by Jukka. I’d like to hear how that could be built in reality, because while my gut feel is the same as Mike’s, there may be someone out there who could make it work? Keep pushing the design envelope, but also keep it real.
    And please folks, let’s lay off the personal attacks, we all are entitled to our opinions.

  6. Mike November 30, 2010 at 1:20 pm -  Reply

    Mike here. Andrew, try to draw a pushrod drivetrain with a drive-side stay and you’ll quickly see the problems. If the coupling is inboard of the dropout you need some seriously goofy mechanicals to prevent interference with the stay, and if it’s outboard you need a bunch of weird curves to have the stay clear the tire and the pushrod clear the crank arm and the rider’s heel. This is why the original design has a non-drive side stay instead of a standard 2 stay design that relies on the strength of triangles. I’m not saying a drive side stay can’t be done but it would be tough, not to mention a ridiculous amount of engineering just to make possible some designer’s flight of fancy.

    As for the practicality of the axle, a pedal is a useful point of comparison. Think about how stout a crank arm is and how much stiffer it would have to be if it were about twice as long and could tolerate less flex. Then think about how most pedal bearings go to crap in about 5k miles and how pedals turn only about 1/5 the revolutions of an axle and with less force on them. It can certainly be done, but the hub and stay assembly would weigh about 20 pounds and you’d need a certified engineer and a trained squirrel to rebuild the hub.

    My opinion stands, this is throwaway stuff, not serious design.

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