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Bamboobee bikes by Sunny Chuah

Bamboobee01I have mentioned bamboo bikes on this blog quite a few times in the past, and I even had the chance to ride one for a few weeks last year.  At first glance, the Bamboobee bikes, by designer AhSun “Sunny” Chuah, looked a lot like all the others on the market.  Upon closer inspection though, there are some pretty interesting details and features that separate Sunny’s bikes from others  that I have seen. Watch the video at the top of his Kickstarter page to see what I mean.

Sunny built his first bamboo bicycle three years ago, and used it to complete a 3,792 mile solo cycling expedition around Central Asia and Asia. “Riding on tough terrains during the expedition taught him a lot about riding comfort, bamboo as a raw material and bicycle design principles. I was also pleasantly surprised at how a natural material like bamboo can break language barriers to create conversations and bring people together” Since that trip, he has refined his prototype designs through trial and error, resulting in the bikes you see here.

bambooSunny refers to his design as the “world’s first tech-based handcrafted bicycle that can connect cyclist, people and nature.”  The integrated SMS alert system, which can send a message to the owner’s phone when a vibration triggers the alarm system, is part of that tech story.  So is the NuVinci continuously variable transmission with an electric assist option… a feature not found on the average bamboo bike. The most interesting tech feature though is the bamboo material itself.  The bamboo tubes are infused with honey (get it…Bamboobee) in a “trademarked environmental friendly process” that, according to Sunny, prevents the natural material from cracking (a common problem with bamboo over time). As a result, the bikes have been certified by International Bicycle EN standards and come with a 10 year warranty.

See three of the initial models below, and visit the Kickstarter page to see several more.Bamboobee07



Posted in Concept, E-bike, Utility.

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Design Week in Milan 2013

In the last month or so, I have been traveling quite a bit for work, so there hasn’t been very much activity here at the Bicycle Design blog.  Last week, I was in Milan, Italy for Euroluce and Salone del Mobile, which I have mentioned before are my favorite design focused shows. In addition to the lighting/furniture fair at FieroMilano in Rho, there are always a LOT of interesting events going on in the city during Milan Design Week. Increasingly, bikes are a big part of the scene…and there were way more this year than I had time to see in three days.

I mentioned in a Twitter post that fixies seemed to be the must have accessory this year in many of the furniture and lighting displays. In general, they were standard hipster issue with deep V rims, flat bars, a few retro parts, and select chrome and leather accents.

Cykno electric bicycle at Milan Design Week 2013All of the bikes at the show were not just accessories though.  The leather, carbon fiber, and stainless steel Cykno electric bike, created by designer Luca  Scopel and engineer Bruno Greppi, was one that was getting a lot of attention.  You can see more pictures of the bike here and here, and check out the design page on the Cykno website for a bit of background on the collaboration.

Several of the bikes that have been mentioned on this blog before could be seen in Milan last week.  Sports fashion brand Dirk Bikkembergs was showing off the  77/011 Metropolitan Bike, a collaboration with Italian motorcycle accessories brand Rizoma .

Smart e-bike station in Milan. Photo credit:

The Smart e-bike by by Hussein Al-Attar could be seen during Design Week. You could even take a design tour on one if you were so inclined.

The handmade wooden bike by Jan Gunneweg was featured in the Green Island 2013 exhibition, a project by aMAZElab. Read more about Green Island on their website.

Bleigh sandwich Bike at Milan Design Week 2013The flat pack Sandwich Bike (pictured above) is a design by Bleigh Industrial Design Studio of Amsterdam that goes back quite a few years at Salone del Mobile. This year, the bikes could be seen at Bleigh’s space near the Heineken sponsored Magazzini in Milan’s Tortona district.

Bike accesories at at Milan Design Week 2013In addition to bicycles, there were other bike related products to be seen in Milan last week.  The “Savoir-Faire” exhibition featured a fun collection of bike accessories selected by ECAL Director Alexis Georgacopoulos. See a video featuring all of the products here.

Like I said, I couldn’t see it all, and this is just a small sampling of the bike related design that was associated with Milan Design week. There were bikes from Bough Bikes, Blackstar Bikes, and Paul Smith/Condor Cycles that I didn’t know about until I was back home, and I am sure that there are many others that I failed to mention. Feel free to leave a comment if you have links or pictures of bikes that I missed.

Posted in Concept, E-bike, Events.

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Taipei Cycle Show 2013- a guest post by Nick Foley

Intro from James: Thanks to Nick Foley, Head of Industrial Design at Social Bicycles, for this guest post. Nick is a frequent commenter, and has been featured on this blog a couple of times in this past, so I was happy that he was willing to share his impressions from the Taipei Cycle Show. I hope you enjoy Nick’s post as much as I did.

The past two years, I’ve traveled to Asia to meet with bicycle manufacturers in mid-March, which means both times, a side-trip has ensued to the Taipei Cycle Show. If you’re getting things built in the bike industry, the Taipei Cycle Show provides a great opportunity to meet new manufacturing partners as well as update existing partners about new projects. If you’re a bike/tech geek, it also provides an amazing opportunity to see novel products firsthand and get a sense for where the bike industry thinks it’s headed. The show concluded this weekend, and James offered to let me sum up my photos and thoughts from the show in a post for Bicycle Design.

X1 e-bike at TCS2013Last year at the Taipei Cycle Show, I went expecting E-Bikes to be the star… and they were: Specialized, Stromer, Eden and a handful of other companies all displayed new, holistically integrated E-Bike designs. This year, due to a busy schedule, I didn’t have a lot of time to speculate on what I was going to see at the show, so what I did see took me a little by surprise: E-Bikes were certainly present in huge numbers, but they felt more like established ideas rather than new ones. I suppose this is due to a market that is beginning to mature, and it’s a good thing for us as potential E-Bike consumers – the best ideas are propagating and standards are emerging. Practically every booth had a few E-Bikes, and most of the innovative ones from last year reappeared in near-identical form this year, though now they were permitted to be photographed. Unfortunately, the Mando Footloose was not at the show… apparently Mando and Pacific Cycles (the manufacturer) couldn’t come to an agreement about the displaying the bike. This was a big disappointment as I’m very interested to see it in person (as are many readers of this blog, I’m sure).

Cervelo Rca at TCS2013Colorful paint at TCS2013Axman road bike at TCS2013axman mountain bike at TCS2013Wheeler front at TCS2013Wheeler track bike at TCS2013
There were many inspiring Road and Mountain bike designs, with a strong showing of color and refinement that was refreshing to see. The Cervelo RCA was clean and understated – the level of thought that went in to its design was evident in every aspect of the frame. Taiwanese manufacturer Axman had several bold, beautiful carbon frames that stood out amongst the generic carbon present in so many booths. My favorite bike from the show, however, was a track bike by Wheeler, with an 80′s-TT-heyday aesthetic and perfectly executed details.







Despite all of the impressive new tech and craft, what really stood out to me this year was… cargo cycling. Bike trailers for every conceivable type of cargo were available, bike-basket makers were finally offering a range of elegant and sturdy options, and E-Bikes with integrated cargo space were everywhere. To me, it was unexpected – and though there weren’t too many cargo products that took my breath away in terms of design – the sheer volume of them left me very excited about the prospect that cargo cycling is actually, finally, going mainstream.

There are many more photos of the show posted to my Google+ page, with comments on them to arrive next week, when I get out behind the Great Firewall of China.

Posted in Events, Guest, Road, Utility.

Cervelo Rca

Cervelo-Rca-bikeYesterday, Cervelo officially launched their new Project California Rca frameset which, according to the company, “integrates category-defining light weight, stiffness, and ride quality with S-series aerodynamics.” That claim of lighter and stiffer with better aerodynamics and great ride quality sounds a bit too good to be true, and would come across as nothing but marketing BS from a lot of companies. Cervelo though has always been rooted in design and engineering, and when they launch a bike like this, you hear about it directly from the people who made it happen. They go deeper than short promotional clips though, with a 29 page white paper by engineers David Killing, Damon Rinard, and engineer/cofounder Phil White. The paper is quite interesting, and explains much of the technical work that drove the design of this frameset, which weighs in at 667 grams for a 54 cm size (with paint and hardware).

Cervelo-Rca-CADdetailsThe final design is the result of 93 iterative frame shapes in CAD that were virtually tested based on 15 parameters and their potential values (explained in more detail in the white paper). One of the noticeable results of that work is a tube shape that Cervelo refers to as “Squoval 3,” which significantly reduces aerodynamic drag. With the help of “Foam Dave” (shown below) in the wind tunnel, Cervelo engineers determined that the new frame has an Aerodynamic savings of 7.4 watts  compared to the current R5ca (10.2 watts vs. a typical road bike).



The frame shape is only part of the innovation story with this bike. 3M’s nano-silica filled  PowerLux™ resin was used in key areas to improve “interlaminar shear and compression strength while maintaining light weight.” According to Cervelo engineers, “compared to more common nano-rubber filled epoxy resins (“toughened” resin systems), which increase toughness at the expense of interlaminar shear strength and compression strength, 3M’s new resin system improves all three properties.” Metallic grain was added for a strong, light coating on the fork steerer. “The grains in PowerMetal Nanovate™ are 1000 times smaller, increasing yield strength by 7 times over conventional nickel.”

Cervelo-Rca-CAD2There are many other innovative features including hollow carbon fiber dropouts, an asymmetric BBright PressFit bottom bracket, internal bulkheads to boost stiffness for the thin wall frame, future-proof internal cable stops (click-in for mechanical, electronic, hydraulic, etc.), and an integrated power meter magnet. I won’t get into all of them in this post, but for more information, I do encourage you to read the full white paper.

The technical data is interesting, but you should also check out the promotional videos created by the crew at Verdict Digital. I already mentioned the engineering one, but there are quite a few others that are worth watching, including the official promo overview.

Oh yeah…I almost forgot. If you are wondering about the price, that is where that “too good to be true” part that I mentioned comes in. At $10,000 for a frameset with a limited edition run of 325, this is definitely not a bike for everyone. The good news though, is that the technology will trickle down and will influence future high end bikes from Cervelo…and from other manufacturers.






Posted in Road.

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Tips for having your design featured here

I have been amazed and delighted to see the traffic to Bicycle Design increase over the years…especially in the last year or so. The fact that more and more people are reading is great, but with only a few hours each week to spend on this blog, it has become much more difficult for me to keep up with the volume of email that I receive each day. My favorite messages are the ones directly from designers with a project to share, like the postal bike by Luke Guttery that I posted last week. Unfortunately though, a few good reader submitted projects have been lost in the shuffle recently, as I quickly scan my inbox and try to weed out all of the off-topic messages and requests (seriously PR people, I am never going to post about NFL merchandise or scrapbooking accessories, so keep the messages related to innovative bike stuff if you don’t want to be blocked).

If you are a designer with an interesting project that you would like for me to post, I want to share a few tips to increase the likelihood that your project will be shared here. First, make sure that you include the word SUBMISSION in the subject of your email. I look for those messages first, because I know that they are coming directly from readers.  Second, do your best to make your design easy for me to post. Often I receive messages from designers that contain links to their work with no further explanation. Sometimes I have time to follow links and learn about the project, but other times I just flag those messages, then get busy with my own design projects and never get back to them. If you provide a 200 to 400 word description of your project in the email, it is much easier for me to quickly understand your idea so that I can easily share it in a post. I usually like to quote the designer when I post a concept too, so take a little time to explain the idea behind the design in your own words. Finally, I appreciate it when people size images that they send for the web. I usually resize images that I post to around 800 pixels wide, so there is no need to send extremely large files. That goes back to the same theme I mentioned before…making it easy for me will greatly increase the chance that I can share your work. I am not able to post everything that I receive, but I do appreciate all the submissions from designers, and the links and tips shared by all readers.

dora-helmet-turn-signalsI don’t want to post without sharing a design concept, so here is link to the DORA helmet concept by Balázs Filczer. As the post explains, the helmet features front and read integrated lights and turn signals on each side that work in “tandem with adaptable Bluetooth handlebar controls to give surrounding vehicles notice of the rider’s intent to turn or brake with universally recognizable light signals and colors.” It seems like a great idea to me. See an animated video and many more rendered images at YankoDesign.

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Winners of the ISUDA mobile bike share design competition

Roda- reader's choice award

Team Roda design- the reader’s choice award

Voting ended in the online poll to select the reader’s choice winner of the Bicycle Design/ ISUDA bike share design competition, and the Roda design by Steve O’Neill, Niall O’Loughlin, Robert McKenna, and Mark McGuinness took the top spot with 31% of the votes. I suspect that the Roda team had an organized local voting campaign underway because they started slow, but quickly shot ahead in the poll the first week and stayed out front for the reminder of the voting period. That is the nature of online voting though, so congrats to team Roda on the win (though I am not sure how the four of them are going to share that Q-bike).

The reader’s choice winning Roda design was not one of the jury’s top picks, but I can share comments from three of the jurors about it.

Mark Sanders

The cheap steel frame as an insert into a PP moulding is an intriguing idea, and if it could be done would make for a self coloured and abuse resistant rental bike – some good sketches too, especially simple ‘S’  dock at centre of docking station sketch selection. But again, although functional, the bicycle design is pretty mediocre – kinda retro. 

Yap Fook Fah

Nice but conventional design. No detail on how bike is locked to the station (at the dropouts?).

James Thomas

I am not really a fan of the aesthetics of the bike or the station (which is not mobile). I do like the simple frame construction on the bike and parts of the system interface though (the Smartphone app and the user set pattern to unlock a bike).


Mathew Boobyer- the jury's top pick

Mathew Boobyer’s concept- the jury’s top pick

In addition to the reader’s choice winner, Francis from ISUDA is providing a second Q-bike prize for the jury’s top choice. Before the online voting started, Francis Chu, Mark Sanders, Yap Fook Fah, and I discussed the entries and ranked our top picks.  The Isuda Concept Bike by Matthew Boobyer, which happened to finish 2nd in the reader poll, was the clear winner by the jury vote.  Below, you can read the comments from each juror about Matthew’s design.

Francis Chu

A well thought through bicycle and station design. Umbrella holder is a nice touch. On the down side, the mobile platform seems to be too large. It also takes up a large space when it is “unfolded”.

Mark Sanders

The portable docking station makes sense as avoids the time consuming work of loading bikes on and off trucks to move them back to where needed, which I believe is an inefficient part of current schemes .  The bicycle design is pretty mediocre.

Yap Fook Fah

Clean bike design with nice features – mudguards, integrated basket and map display. Portable docking design concept is nice, but I’m not too sure if the high platform could be a problem. Getting the bike down and rolling it down backward could be a challenge for some users.

James Thomas

Best solution to the mobile station issue. The live map to show where stations (and maybe bikes) are located is a good idea, as is the light indicator to show availability. I don’t particularly love the bikes, but the interactive maps, integrated lights, and ample storage are all nice features.  I do have a concern about the safety of a steep metal ramp to roll the bikes up and down.  The potential for slipping and falling would need to be addressed in the design.


That covers the jury comments for the two entries that will be awarded prizes, but I can share our feedback about the other designs in a separate post if there is any interest. It was a fun to review the entries, and though we didn’t get as many as we hoped, the competition did lead to some interesting discussion on the topic of optimizing a bike share program to use mobile stations. The Core77 blog, Atlantic Cities, and Treehugger were just a few of the sites to share opinions about the entries. We definitely appreciate their input, and the comments from all of you as well.

…and of course, a big thanks to all of you who took the time to design and submit an entry. Participation from readers is what makes this blog fun, so I definitely appreciate the interaction.

Posted in Commuter, Concept, Events.

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An e-bike for Deutsche Post by Luke Guttery

Deutsche-Post-ebike-side1Luke Guttery, of Axon56 design lab, recently sent me these images from a project that he has been working on for Deutsche Post. The electric bike, designed specifically for use by the postal service in Germany, is a collaborative design effort with Grace GmbH and Nicolai GmbH (a company that Luke believes is the highest precision bicycle manufacturer in the world).

Deutsche-Post-ebike-warehouseLuke can’t release too many detailed specs on the bikes at the moment, but he points out that there are quite a few “working prototypes cruising the streets Berlin streets as we speak.”  The bikes are currently under testing and a second design revision is underway, so it won’t be much longer before these bikes are commonplace in Germany

Luke explains that the “design started with simple sketches on paper, looking at symmetrical shapes and how to maximize storage capacity on the bike.” As with most design projects, quite a few sketch and 3d rendering revisions were required to get to the engineering phase of the development process. The sketches, renderings, and photos shown here give you a glimpse into that design process, and we can look forward to seeing the final design once it is completed and put into use by German postal carriers.







Posted in Concept, E-bike, Utility.

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Wood and leather commuter gear from Nisnas Industries

Nisnas-industriesI briefly mentioned Nisnas Industries a couple of years ago when it was a new venture by founders Yossi and Max. At the time, I referred to them as “a small workshop dedicated to custom commuters in the city of Haifa in northern Israel.” That description is probably still fairly accurate, though it appears that they are more focused on their handcrafted wood and leather commuter gear now than on custom frames.

One thing that has not changed though is their focus on the neighborhood where they started. Yossi and Max currently have a Kickstarter campaign underway to, as they explain, launch a larger community center for youth in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood of Haifa that will double as a manufacturing center to produce our wood and leather designs.” The space will allow them to increase production and employ more local artists, and will be open after hours to serve as a community workshop for local youth.

Nisnas-kul-porter-bagYou can see a few of the handmade wood and leather bike commuter oriented goods that they produce in this post, but I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter page and the Nisnas blog to see much more.  I really like the inlay-ed wooden fenders, and the wood and leather notepads, but the wood and leather messenger bags are what really caught my attention.  The wooden spine on the Kul bags (available in two sizes) was inspired by their “rugged, rigorously tested and proven mud guard designs.” They explain that it “reinforces the shape of the bag, adding protection making it more sturdy and beautiful” and that they “custom-etch the spine to fit the bag perfectly.” The bags are beautiful, and I particularly like the way they can be used as a shoulder bag, or attached to the top tube of a standard frame to make a frame bag.

You can read much more about the products, as well as see pictures and video, on the Kickstarter page. I really do like the wood and leather commuting products that these guys are making, and the fact that they giving so much back to their local community in the process makes the gear even more attractive. Check out what they are doing, and back the project if you feel so inclined.



Posted in Commuter.

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