Wednesday, September 3, 2014

E-bikes Need Both Style and Substance

This substance could use more style.

Oregon Manifest TEAGUE X Sizemore Bicycle from TEAGUE on Vimeo.

This style could use more substance.

The top of this post features the winner of The Bike Design Project presented by Levi's Commuter collection. Denny has a couple of cycling accessories integrated right into the bike--lights and a U-lock--and a newfangled type of fender that brushes debris/water away from you(?). Okay. Let's try new things on our bikes, but without over-thinking the bike. A U-lock holster would've held the lock and allowed a cyclist to customize his handlebars. There are sensor-activated lights on this bike as well as the others, but none of the bikes have reflective sidewall tires. No design team used the slightest bit of color. No design team appears to have had a high regard for beauty.

Conversely, the Martone Cycling Company's idea for an e-bike is all about beauty. They took one of their vibrantly-colored, classically-styled bikes and slapped a battery on the frame. Without a basket, the bundle of wires connecting the battery to the bike hangs glaringly from the handlebars. It's as is they believed they'd pass this less-than-well-designed concept off as a true venture into the e-bike category because they're the pretty bicycle company. If their rechargeable battery came out of a slick compartment that also powered the bike's signal lights and acted as a basket, the Marton-E bike would've been a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign.

An e-bike should be neither a contraption on two wheels nor feature a battery stuck to it with Command strips. Integrating a rechargeable battery and some lights into a hot e-bike that gets tons of press and love from the fashion world may not constitute a leap in technology, but it's intelligent design as far as retail goes. How is poor Fuji supposed to produce the otherwordly Denny at a less than astronomical price point? How is Fuji supposed to sell a bike that looks like that at an astronomical price point? Consumers--especially older ones who rode bikes like this--are going to relate better to a bike that looks like a [traditional] bike. Everyone loves eye-candy. Industrial designers and bike industry insiders cannot be the only people who get excited about a bike because arcane design concepts do not move product.

1 comment

e-bikes said...

I have read your post & it was really amazing!

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