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Toyota Prius Project concept bike

Concept, Road Bike 5 1644

Toyota Prius Project concept bicycleThis is turning out to be a REALLY busy work week for me (better than the alternative, so I am not complaining). I don’t have much free time to post on the blog, but I do want to quickly mention the Toyota Prius project concept bike, a design project to “build a bike that encapsulates the forward-thinking design ideas of the Toyota Prius.” This collaborative between Toyota and Parlee Cycles was introduced on John Watson’s ProllyisnotProbably blog back in April and since that time he has been posting weekly updates on the design and build process.

At first glance, the PXP looks like just another slick aero carbon fiber road bike with a stem integrated into the form of the frame, brakes integrated into the fork, and a built in smartphone dock. So why, you may wonder, is it getting so much attention on the design and gadget blogs? Could it be the fact that the shifting is ‘mind controlled’ by way of a EEG powered helmet? That’s right…the helmet, designed by Deeplocal, allows the rider to shift the gears by just thinking about it. A recent Fast Company Design post explains how the prototype works:

“After a ten-minute “training” session that tells the system how to distinguish “shift up” from “shift down” (or “I want a sandwich”), the helmet will reliably send the appropriate signal to the PXP’s electric derailleur. “When you see the bike shift for the first time, it’s kind of like magic,” Matthew Pegula, Deeplocal Lead Engineer, tells Co.Design. “It’s also interesting because we were able to build all of this with off-the-shelf components and some custom software to glue everything together. That means that we’re not too far off from this being commercially viable.”

Whether or not you are skeptical of the idea of a mind controlled bike, you have to admit this is a pretty intriguing design exercise. According to Chris Adams, Executive Creative Director for Saatchi & Saatchi LA (Toyota’s advertising agency), that’s all it will ever be. He told Fast Company that the project was intended as a design exploration only. “That said, we hope the learning from this concept exploration will expand the conversation around the future of bike design.” So what do you think? Are mind-controlled bikes in our future? With the advent of electronic shifting, is removing the brifter altogether the next logical step?

Photo credits: John Watson

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  1. darren July 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm -  Reply

    also a good tool for the wear-a-helmet advocates to encourage compliance. If you don’t wear a helmet, you’re single-speeding.

  2. Arnold July 21, 2011 at 7:10 am -  Reply

    Probably not a good idea to connect the brakes to this system as well… having seen the last downhill ride in the tour de France. Most riders I imagine were probably thinking nothing else than : “brake, brake, brake….”

  3. Pedro July 29, 2011 at 8:30 am -  Reply

    Great potential for high-end shift-gear systems (triathlon, per example). No possibilities for braking, though. Neverthelessn, brake-by-wire will be a question at some point, I suppose.

  4. Bike Hire Brisbane August 4, 2011 at 4:27 am -  Reply

    Hmm interesting little concept, at least it will work in Australia where helmets are mandatory. Lets just hope you don’t see something interesting whilst riding which messes up your gear changing. I don’t think you will see these bikes at any hire shops anytime soon.

  5. Mechanics Matter February 21, 2012 at 12:02 am -  Reply

    I’d love to get up next to the guy on this bike for a sprint…. “Hey guy – Shift down!!!”

    Plant the thought and watch his bike follow the instructions Hehehehehe

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