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Any ideas for a Bicycle Design competition in 2012?

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  1. Andy December 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm -  Reply

    How about “Best Practical & Producible Bicycle.” It could be for any purpose (commute, race, recreation, etc.), but it would have to win in the eyes of the judges for being feasibly producible in the next 5 years, and something that people would theoretically want to buy in that time period.

    I’d love to see a competition that actually encourages designers to look at what people ride today, and find ways to improve on that, without going so far overboard that it would never be likely to see a produced version of their design. The winning design might include some specialty parts or a new frame design, but it shouldn’t require redesigning every part from scratch, which we see over and over again as lofty dream bikes that just won’t ever make it off the computer screen.

    • James Thomas December 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm -  Reply

      Practicality and manufacturability will definitely be considerations. I don’t want to discourage creative thinking, but yeah…the ideas need to be grounded in reality.

      • Andy December 13, 2011 at 1:36 pm -  Reply

        There’s creativity and there’s over the top dreaming. With a few careful wording choices, this would hopefully weed out the unproducible dreams specifically to spur *more* real creativity.

        • James Thomas December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm -  Reply


  2. John December 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

    I like designs that push the envelope. How about designing for the new “around the world race.” So, a human powered vehicle to traverse the world unsupported.

  3. Gary December 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm -  Reply

    How about a competition to design better safety accessories to be used with any bike? We need more than reflective vests and blinking lights to make cyclists more visible to drivers on the road.

  4. David A. Parrott December 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm -  Reply

    I agree with Andy in that I want to see something “practical” that can be produced. If I see another bike concept with hubless, solid or otherwise ridiculous (ron arad) wheels or downwind sails, I thin I might snap.

  5. Adam Rice December 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm -  Reply

    I’d also be in favor of something practical and producible, with some constraints to keep in interesting. One constraint I’d propose: a “one-tool” bike—as much as possible, everything on it can be attached and tweaked with (for example) a 5-mm allen key.

    • James Simpson January 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm -  Reply


      The concept is being taken out of context.

      The concept of moving masses relates to Mass Transportation…..Think Bike Trains on old track lines with multiple operators and passenger cars, think Suspended Bike Rails with the Scweeb-Like Pods for individuals and tandems, think Multi-Passenger Trikes and Quads that are more stable and adaptable to normal families and groups working in unison, commercial carpooling via Pedal Power.

      I am looking for partnership in development of a few key vehicles that are to be integrated into US Postal Services, UPS, and FedEX….these will spawn revenue to create these actual concepts listed above, that we have developed and are prepared to integrate by the end of the next two years.

      Pedal Power Work Bikes is the name of my company and I do most of the designs and prototyping myself, have four vehicles and mountain bike accessories ready for sale in US, with OEM and Distribution partnerships established Globally awaiting our foundation to launch this season.

      If you or another like minded individual want to get into some REAL PROGRESS, please link me or take advantage of these opportunities yourself. I am a broke as a joke designer with more light at the end of the Tunnel than all of NYC…..I dont want to be ripped off by a bunch of individuals that snatch the concepts and run for the hills. Please see what you can do….open to rapping anbout the future too, but have to hold a degree of sanity in getting these things going, and these design teams are so far from reality, they have the year 2035 on the brain bad.

  6. Adam Lazenby December 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm -  Reply

    Electric Bike for the Masses
    Electric bikes are gaining popularity across the world. For some people it allows them to keep riding their bike after some health difficulties. For others it allows them to commute to work over hilly terrain without needing a shower when they arrive. Unfortunately, most electric bikes on the market appear pieced together and/or are fairly unattractive. Increased usability and aesthetics of electric bike could potentially persuade more people to swing their leg over a bike for daily use. Improving electric bike design could be fun, interesting and potentially helpful to the industry.

  7. Dego December 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm -  Reply

    A new definition of bikes used to transport goods in urban enviroments would be interesting. Also in combination with electric drives. Compared to the use of commuting bikes the proportion is close to zero. Also the exisiting products I see on the market aren´t contemporary and don´t look like they can solve the challenge of inner city transportation of our century.

    • Andy December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am -  Reply

      Check out the Oregon Manifest. That’s what they did, and had to not only build, but ride the bikes 50 miles carrying odd shaped stuff to prove their functionality.

    • Oa December 21, 2011 at 3:45 am -  Reply

      I second this.

    • Canis familiaris January 9, 2012 at 9:25 am -  Reply

      Yeah! I would also like to see what designers have to say about cargo bikes for kids and goods in urban areas. That’s actually my first concern for 2012.

  8. Brian Rees December 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm -  Reply

    I would suggest a competition based upon size. Give the dimensions and require that a bike be collapsable and fit within the size criteria when collapsed. For example the size of a carry-on piece of luggage. No fees!

    • Andy December 13, 2011 at 11:43 am -  Reply

      I’ve seen the effects of that thinking before (maybe it was posted on this blog) – and the totally collapsible bikes that were designed looked like they would take hours to put back together. What is really lacking with folding bikes is a design worth carrying. Most of them are very heavy, or lack the capability to shift in attempts of reducing weight. Based on the designs we’ve seen here, I’m not sure people are quite ready to provide reasonable data for the material science behind the weights of double butted tubing, titanium, etc.

  9. lolmaus December 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm -  Reply

    A bicycle that is elegant and beautiful in cruiser/chopper/limousine style but at the same time very practical: a recumbent, an utility bike, a commuter…

  10. Eric December 13, 2011 at 12:46 am -  Reply

    start at the beginning : kids and learning to cycle ?

  11. j gaerlan December 13, 2011 at 11:00 am -  Reply

    How about a category where the bikes are actually built, ridden then judged on practicality, cost, utility etc. Renditions or drawings are good starting inspiration points. But let’s go build and ride em.

    • James Thomas December 13, 2011 at 1:19 pm -  Reply

      As much as I would like to judge entries based on actually riding prototypes, the logistics of staging such a competition are more than I can take on for this blog. As Andy mentioned above though, the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge is just such a competition. I really hope to see that event continue to grow as it does produce creative ideas that are definitely grounded in reality since they have to be built and raced.

  12. Sue Jones December 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm -  Reply

    How ’bout best integration of technology into a bicycle? I want a bicycle with a defense system. REverse airbags,perhaps? Something on the handlebar I can squeeze, to squirt something at a car coming too close… how ’bout a telescoping walk-light dinger? (I’m just thinking of Inconveniences and Hazards of Commuting and Creative Ways of Dealing With Them.)

  13. James Thomas December 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm -  Reply

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions so far. There are quite a few good ideas here to consider. Keep them coming!

  14. Matt King December 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm -  Reply

    Idea 1: A new “class” of racing bike. Something as far outside UCI rules as desired by the designer, but conforming to the rules they (or you) choose (maybe a new format of racing?) and still rideable in a group/peloton environment (eg no fully faired recumbents). High priority to standardised (eg “one make”) design and realistic cost.

    Idea 2: A “family cycling” challenge. Find creative ways for a family to go riding together. (better kids bikes? child seats? Tandems? tagalongs?)

  15. Victor Ragusila December 14, 2011 at 12:27 am -  Reply

    What about novel touring concept? Right now racing is defined by rules, and urban concepts are everywhere (and yet everyone rides 100$ beater bikes in the city). In touring however there is the highest diversity of concepts, from recumbent trikes to tandems to uprights loaded with luggage.
    I think the challenge of riding for the entire day, on various terrain, with luggage, while staying somewhat aerodynamic and allowing for customization for the user is very interesting and not many people pay attention to it.


    Victor Ragusila

  16. Nicholas Hardrath December 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm -  Reply

    I definitely like the idea of being feasible in the next 5 years. I think technology and accessory integration is a good start. There’s 1000’s of new bikes released every year, only a small fraction actually address things like storage, theft deterrence, technology integration and technology integration. What if you could hop on your commuter bike, and EASILY plug your phone in to charge on your ride in, your headlights were integrated so there was no issue with hooking up extra components, and you had a legitimate place for a good lock, and clothing accessories? Practical and never addressed all at once. This ‘integration’ idea gives plenty of room for design freedom and aesthetic (customizable) qualities as well.

    • Victor Ragusila December 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm -  Reply

      I wonder how many actual users would like a very integrated design. Myself, i like trying accessories and playing with components. It also allows me to try different ideas and learn about bike technology.
      Of course, something you never have to worry about and it is all integrated might be great for users that are less tech-inclined. I would be very curious to know what percentage each group is. An integrated design cannot be tuned for each rider’s preference, and most cyclists i know are very keep on having individualized, unique bikes.


  17. Vincent December 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm -  Reply

    “Commuter community”
    All these people, cycling at the same time on the same road… modern phones make more communication possible, but what with the bikes and bikes components? How to adapt them to take advantage of this mass of people?
    The reflexion on the design is frequently on the individual level (my bike) or on the urbanism level. Think on the community level would be something different.
    Let’s be creative!

  18. Ryan Paetzold December 16, 2011 at 3:42 am -  Reply

    I second Andy’s “Best Practical & Producible Bicycle.” – blue sky thinking is always awesome but feasability and responsibility is one of the cirteria I would like to see in the brief.

  19. Don December 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm -  Reply

    I would encourage you to seek design challenges outside the design community (if you aren’t already), as a way to avoid rehashing the usual stuff and to keep it grounded. Maybe asking municipalities or a commuting group.

    Some ideas off the top of my head might include parking security and stability, load-carrying adaptability on standard frames, or for something more focused, a rethinking of handlebar/brake/shifter design (retaining standard cable travel) for the needs of urban riders, with a mind to multiple hand positions and traffic safety.

  20. Ross Nicholson December 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm -  Reply

    I made an entry in the last one and then saw somebody else building it and showing it off here. So eh?

    • Andy December 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm -  Reply

      Which one was that? I’m sure for any bike idea we see online, at least 10 other people have thought about it already.

    • James Thomas December 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm -  Reply

      Ross, I never posted your entry for the last competition, so I am not sure how anyone could have possibly seen it. I am curious though which design you are referring to that someone else was showing off here. I just looked back at your sketch for a “trike or quad motorized hammock”, and I really don’t see any resemblance to any other design that I can recall.

  21. Peter Johnson December 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm -  Reply

    i like Victor’s idea of a novel touring concept that could generate interesting designs for a practical carrier ,comfortable, aerodynamic and stylish means of riding .

    James i wonder if it would be possible to see all the entries that can be displayed this time before they get shortlisted by the judges.?

    • James Thomas December 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm -  Reply

      Peter, I agree and I want to find a way to share all of the entries this time. Also, it might be worth going back and compiling all 60 something entries from the previous competition into a pdf booklet to share here as well.

  22. mr. chromatonic December 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm -  Reply

    I’d like to see a bicycle design contest judged on a) practicality (cargo hauling, handling varied terrain, etc.), b) portability (weight?), c) storage (folding?), d) security, and most important of all, e) COST. $2500 bikes (let alone REALLY expensive one!) just don’t cut it.

    • dumbo December 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm -  Reply

      I like yr ideas. Here’s some helps…Cargo hauling? ex-military heavy canvas bags with strong strap-holders on a sprung pannier carrier. Portability? modern light steels. Saddle-springs r enuff. Storage? folding; or only 26″ wheels. Parallel h-bars are narrow, Hub gears are clean, last, and cheap. Drum brakes fit in wheel, almost no upkeep; cheap. Chain-cases are clean and their chains & sprockets last decades. Most vehicles’ lights are 71-ish cms off the ground. Have big lights there to join in. Switch them on the h-bars.

  23. Alex Liauw December 19, 2011 at 9:02 pm -  Reply

    At the moment I am living in Vietnam, everyone here wants a motorbike. In a lot of the developing world it is the same – people want to get away from the bicycle and get motorized transport. I think it would be great to try and design a bike for developing countries that would be a bit more aspirational for the masses, and give some of the benefits that a motorbike.

    Id also like to see some new idea for 700c or 26inch wheel folding bikes.

  24. Alex Liauw December 21, 2011 at 6:29 am -  Reply

    Another idea, I’m the type of guy that has around 10 bikes, multiple mtbs, multiple road bikes, commuter bike, time trial bike, cross bike etc. In a world where perhaps less is more if there was one bike that would satisfy most of my bicycle fixation would be neat, that would be an interesting design challenge.

  25. Ian Clewett December 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm -  Reply

    James – I’m so glad you’re thinking of running another competition. I really enjoyed the challenge and results that came out of the last one. I’d love to see some ideas for folding, or at least easily stored or transported bikes. A huge amount of people live in flats or small houses, with minimal amounts of storage space – these are probably people that would make most use of a bike for quick, local trips or to get around town. If more compact(able), they could be more easily accommodated on public transport too, giving people a quick way to get to the station or bus stop, or park & ride place then onwards to work, shops etc. I’m sure there is space in the market for a decent wheel-sized bike that’s ‘space optimised’ rather than a full-on compact folding bike?

  26. Ed December 27, 2011 at 11:39 am -  Reply

    The most significant improvement on the last competition would be to allow the contributors to this forum to be judge and jury of the entries. Last time, the “winning” concept was an almost totally useless, impractical computer design that would never reach the streets but looked pretty and “revolutionary” to a bunch of marketeers who were more concerned with making eloquent assessment rather than thinking about real biking improvement. I mean no insult to the previous judges and it might be that I missed the concept of the competition but to my mind there is an opportunity to pool some great biking brains here and come up with something that we’d all like to own because it works.

    • James Thomas February 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm -  Reply

      Ed, I would like to allow all readers to pick the winner, but the logistics of posting each submission and setting up a fair way for people to vote for the winner is the limiting factor. It is definitely something I want to work out at some point though. Even if I am unable to run the next competition that way, I will find a way to post all of the entries so that everyone can see and discuss them.

      • Ed February 8, 2012 at 7:39 pm -  Reply

        Fair enough James, thanks for responding.

  27. James Thomas February 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm -  Reply

    Thanks to everyone who has commented. There are some great ideas here. I am still mulling them all over (and trying to figure out when I can find time to do this), so keep adding ideas if you have them.

    • Alex Liauw February 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm -  Reply

      Hi James,

      perhaps you could have a panel winner, and a peoples choice. Entrees could submit one picture that could be posted for the peoples choice, and people could simple get to vote by email – 1 vote per email address.

  28. ConorC February 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi James,

    I’m a bit late to this discussion, but fair play for thinking of running another competition. The 2 best things out of the last competition were from Mark Sanders and Agnete Enga. The articles you’ve published by them – “Who, Where, What” by Agnete and “Blue Ocean” by Mark could serve as a great starting point for a new competition.

    A competition that gets people talking and finding solutions to the many real issues facing the greater uptake of cycling by everyone from 8 to 80 everywhere would be great. So the comment about a “family cycling challenge” by Matt King, is a pretty interesting idea that would get +1 from me.’s-“who-where-what”-from-the-design-competiton/

  29. dumbo February 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm -  Reply

    Run a “Traffic-Friendly Bicycle” competition. Gears u can change when stopped [in the hub], brakes that always work [in a drum], light-switches @ yr finger-tips, luggage-carrying capacity [cheap panniers], mudguards to be nice to those who’re near, be visible with a rear reflector and bright colors on the machine. U’re then so close to being an ordinary item of traffic that taxis respect u, lorries see u, cars know u’re there…u fit in. This is nice.

  30. Stefano March 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm -  Reply

    I’m late to this discussion… anyway I want to suggest a design competition for velomobiles as personal commuting vehicle in urban areas.

  31. Peter Johnson May 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi James I was looking at hotmail and if you set up an email reply that for each picture you gave a number and then wrote in the subect box say “PICTURE -1” Once received you could search by subject each PICTURE-1or PICTURE-2 etc and this would list all emails with that subject,
    I expect this works for all e-mail servers so might be the easiest way to track votes.
    regards Peter

  32. Alistair Williamson May 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm -  Reply

    “A Family Bike.”
    Are we condemned to errand by car and bus for 7+ years of our lives because junior is to young to either ride out with us or home alone. Must we segregate the joy of the country road or woodland path from our young kids? 99.99% of bikes shun passengers while approx 85% of adults have children.

    It also keeps the competition broad: Family Bike could be family touring, family racing, family communing …

    Life is a journey they say – let’s travel by bike I say, an no I’m not leaving the wee ones behind.

    Cheers, Alistair

  33. Indrit May 16, 2012 at 5:58 am -  Reply

    Rain/Wind protection for existant and future bicycles?

  34. Graham June 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm -  Reply

    I wouldn’t leave out the creative vision in the competition. New ideas come from new concepts and it is with this in mind that I feel the envelope should be pushed! Yes there are boundaries to what can be achieved now and in 10 years time but the world and it’s markets are evolving. New demands from the bicycle and it’s users are already pushing the ‘envelope’. The competition should focus on a future scenario to evoke advanced design and thought processes to create some fresh ideas.

    Key areas such as materials, integration of technologies and connectivity between bicycles and vehicles should be some key factors in the competition. Just some thoughts on what I would include you should promote future thinking in your design brief.

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