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The logical design evolution of the fixed-gear bicycle is the unicycle.
February 5, 2011 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Does your fixed-gear bicycle have too many moving parts? Well, have I got the solution for you!
posted by schmod (89 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat. I'd totally ride one just to make people laugh.
posted by Forktine at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2011


That bike looks like something that the 'idiots' in Nathan Barley would ride down the street, wearing miniature top hats, when they're not riding tricycles, mobility scooters or little miniature clown bikes.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:06 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just buy a unicycle already! or, for ultimate minimalism, stand on a big rock and logroll.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:07 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This one can coast and it has real brakes.
posted by romanb at 6:08 PM on February 5, 2011


The guy they picture riding it is a young white man with a dumb ironic hat and a full beard.

Of course he is.
posted by kafziel at 6:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


How much? Couldn't find a price.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:10 PM on February 5, 2011


How much? Couldn't find a price.

If you have to ask...
posted by jsavimbi at 6:12 PM on February 5, 2011


Our target lived/worked in an inner city environment with minimal space. Bicycling at this level can be more about fashion and culture than speed and performance.

Really? I thought it bicycling at that level was more about trying to not get doored, or hit by a fucking cab, or bitched at by Marty Markowitz.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 6:13 PM on February 5, 2011 [17 favorites]


That looks like back pain if you're riding it a lot.
posted by arcticseal at 6:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, guys? There's something really strange on my lawn and I'm not sure how to deal with this one. I tried killing it with fire but it just lit a Parliament and stared at me, and then threw an empty tallboy can of Natural Ice at my head.
posted by loquacious at 6:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


That looks about as comfortable as a colonoscopy.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:17 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meh, call me when they start riding them across continents, and down into Death Valley.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:18 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hope that thing is welded together well since the front and the back are only connected by a single bar.
posted by octothorpe at 6:19 PM on February 5, 2011


How do you lock it? If someone takes the wheel off it looks like you're pretty much done for because I don't see anywhere to run a lock or chain through.
posted by Scientist at 6:21 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also if you watch the 36er Test Drive Video you can tell that the setup effectively makes the gearing on this thing way too low. Look at the way the rider keeps giving it a quick few pedals and then coasting, just like I do on my old Fuji when I'm trying to cruise in too low a speed. Makes sense, too: when riding a bike at cruising speed you pretty much always want to gear up (big sprocket in the front, little sprocket in the back) whereas this bike effectively has the opposite configuration.

Still though I've gotta say that I honestly do like the look of the thing. I just wish that it had some kind of frame loop for a lock to go through... and then maybe you could fit a 3-speed hub gear to that rear axle, and you'd pretty much be ready to rock. The ride position doesn't look that much different from how I ride already, main difference being the positioning of the legs which would be weird but I bet I'd get used to it.

Sign me up for Version 2.0, I guess.
posted by Scientist at 6:30 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you lock it?

You could only be so lucky to have someone steal that off you.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:32 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


C'mon. It's a pretty incredible attempt at visual design. I don't know from functionality, but then I still ride a Trek mountain bike from the 90s.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:36 PM on February 5, 2011


So... its a unicycle with a training wheel?
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:37 PM on February 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


Huh, they have larger wheels to deal with the 1:1 gearing. So even larger wheels would give you a better gearing. But to avoid a huge frame length, they'd have to be assymmetrical. Maybe you just make the front wheel really large and pedal/steer with that, and then have a small trailing wheel for stability.

I can see this thing being steampunked pretty quickly.

As I buy my trousers with 32" legs, I wouldn't like to dismount from a 36" wheel frame with crossbar in a hurry. If you know what I mean.
posted by carter at 6:38 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope that thing is welded together well since the front and the back are only connected by a single bar.

That's what I was thinking, as well. I just don't see how that bike could hold up when taking the kind of abuse that riding on crappy urban pavement can dish out. The simple triangle geometry of a traditional bicycle is damn near perfect for it's task - it's tough to improve on that.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:42 PM on February 5, 2011


Everyone, stop being so god damned precious.
posted by nola at 6:42 PM on February 5, 2011


nola: "Everyone, stop being so god damned precious"

Are you kidding me? It's the fucking idiots who toodle around with great honking rabbi beards, smoking pipes while riding pennyfarthings who are desperately trying to be precious.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:46 PM on February 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


(hipster =/= "idiot", for the record.)
posted by dunkadunc at 6:46 PM on February 5, 2011


That looks about as comfortable as a colonoscopy.

Our colonoscopies are more about fashion and culture than comfort and early cancer detection.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:49 PM on February 5, 2011 [14 favorites]


No, I've got the solution for you!

Well, I'd prefer it to that bike anyway.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:53 PM on February 5, 2011


I believe you're the first person in the thread to mention hipsters, so I'm not sure why you felt the need to defend yourself there. In any case, I think it's obvious that these things are not going to be more practical than a standard safety bicycle is and they're probably not going to spark any revolutions, but I fail to see how the creators of these things are doing anyone any harm so I really don't get the hate.

They had an idea for something that they thought would be cool, figured out how to make it, built the damn thing, and now they're showing it off and offering it for sale for anyone who might be interested in possessing such an object. Sure the buyers involved probably have more money than sense, but there are worse things that one could spend one's cash on than a somewhat-silly bicycle made by some enthusiastic chaps from Michigan. It'd probably be the only one in town, which is reason enough for some folks.

Anyway, I never really got the hate for this sort of thing around there. So it's probably not a revolution. It does play around a bit with ideas about minimalism, low maintenance, simplicity, and style however. Why not?
posted by Scientist at 6:54 PM on February 5, 2011 [9 favorites]


Surely the tires being so close together could be hazardous in some way...not really sure what that would be but it seems dangerous. Since there's no way to adjust for size I assume these are custom made so I guess if you can afford thousands of dollars for an impractical show bike it would be a pretty cool ride for critical mass or tweed rides or naked rides or whatever the kids are doing these days.
posted by ghharr at 6:58 PM on February 5, 2011


It still has moving parts that could be eliminated, like steering.

I am waiting for someone to realize the ultimate logical design evolution of bikes, a total reduction in complexity, ends up walking on foot.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:01 PM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


The ultimate in fixee hipster obsession. Now giving hipsters a chance to one up the fixee riders. NO CHAIN. THE CHAIN JUST TAKES AWAY FROM THE REAL EXPERIENCE OF PEDALING, MAN.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, if you squares are freaked out now, wait until they make one of these bad boys into a tallbike.
posted by god hates math at 7:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


That looks about as comfortable as a colonoscopy.

I don't know, at least they get you nicely sedated beforehand.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:11 PM on February 5, 2011


Hmmm, it makes me want to ride a fixed-gear 29er with drop-cruiser handlebars.

Of course, that shit's way too dangerous.
posted by fuq at 7:12 PM on February 5, 2011


god hates math: "Man, if you squares are freaked out now, wait until they make one of these bad boys into a tallbike "

I love how he blows right through the stop sign in that video because you can't stop the stupid thing without having to hop off.
posted by octothorpe at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does for bikes what e-readers do for books.
posted by Skygazer at 7:14 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


These have extremely low gearing equivalents. A 36 inch direct drive wheel would be like a fixed gear 48 tooth front and 35 rear cog. Even at 100 rpm cadence, you'd be going 11 mph!
posted by jjj606 at 7:16 PM on February 5, 2011


Does for bikes what e-readers do for books.

...Very liitle?
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:26 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, I thought it was ugly to begin with, then they stick some mud flaps on it.
posted by robotot at 7:28 PM on February 5, 2011


carter: Huh, they have larger wheels to deal with the 1:1 gearing. So even larger wheels would give you a better gearing. But to avoid a huge frame length, they'd have to be assymmetrical. Maybe you just make the front wheel really large and pedal/steer with that, and then have a small trailing wheel for stability.

I can see this thing being steampunked pretty quickly.
Oh hey, congratulations, you just reinvented the penny-farthing!

Oh goddammit dunkadunc...
posted by hincandenza at 7:44 PM on February 5, 2011


I recognize that it can be bad form to comment on website design rather than the actual content of the link itself, but for a page ostensibly all about design that is a huge pain to use. I try to scroll down and it scrolls sideways, there's the weird "read more" thing that doesn't show up where I expect it, and, um, strange frames? I'm not really sure.

More directly related to the content,

The initial inner city bike was inspired by the “hobby horse” from it’s simplicity and the motorcycle cafe racing culture. Each is an exercise in stripping something down to its core. As it evolved, the design triggered a shift in time, spurring the questions, “Is there an opportunity to change a timeless product?” “Can we go back and try something new?”

really irked me. I apologize if this is standard design terminology and there's something I'm not getting (let me know if that's the case) but "the design triggered a shift in time"? It did? No, it didn't, time did not shift because of you redesigning a bike.

Also, of course there's an opportunity to change a timeless product; people (as far as I know) redesign bikes and stuff all the time. It's not like at some point we sat back and said "Bikes, huh? I guess we've done all we can there! Not getting any better, no sir. Let's just leave them.". For some reason, I found the whole website/project/writing extremely abrasive.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:58 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


THOSE HIPSTERS SURE ARE STUPID AMIRITE!

now leave me alone--i have to get back to listening to the same records and watching the same movies i snark about hipsters liking.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:05 PM on February 5, 2011


Anyway, I never really got the hate for this sort of thing around there. So it's probably not a revolution. It does play around a bit with ideas about minimalism, low maintenance, simplicity, and style however. Why not?

because we've seen a lot of custom, wacky, weird, interesting and inspiring ideas for bicycles on the blue that survive on their own design merits. Marrying such projects to a trendy bit of culture fashion is generally unwise.
posted by bl1nk at 8:20 PM on February 5, 2011


I love my bikes, but if someone wants to try out some different ideas, then I'm all for it. Go for it, crazy bike designing people! Ignore the cranks!
posted by orme at 8:38 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm actually going to start a punk band called "The Hipsters," because that's the most offensive, punk-rock name I can think of for a band right now.

And if any of you steal my idea, I'll cut you.
posted by koeselitz at 8:38 PM on February 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ugh. I hate concept bikes.

Interestingly enough, this one's "Story" begins with: The world doesn’t need another bike redesign, and then goes on to say why they're special and why they redesigned the bike. I'm not sure what makes me madder - such terrible writing, or such a terrible bike design. I can nearly guarantee that that thing is uncomfortable to ride and handles like shit.
posted by entropone at 8:41 PM on February 5, 2011


The fastest frames on record ditched the double-triangle pattern, but they both exploited the anisotropy of carbon fibre. These guys are using some kind of metal, maybe even just plain steel, and I'd be real curious if anyone could pull this off with metal.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:45 PM on February 5, 2011



Are you kidding me? It's the fucking idiots who toodle around with great honking rabbi beards, smoking pipes while riding pennyfarthings who are desperately trying to be precious.


1 second later and I would have spit my lemonade in my lap. Pennyfarthings - haha!
posted by cashman at 8:53 PM on February 5, 2011


Services will be held at Bacon Doughnuts Taco Truck. (Dollar PBRs.)
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:53 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, I get it... This is satire!!
posted by the painkiller at 9:01 PM on February 5, 2011


I dunno. I like it. I mean, where else are you going to use 36 " wheels? And I'd never seen and in-hub freewheel like that before.

SO SUCK ON MY MIDDLING INTEREST AND APPROVAL, HATERS.
posted by GuyZero at 9:25 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


i hope you can raise the seat on this thing, the guy in the video wasn't getting nearly enough leg extension. seeing that was making me cringe.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:39 PM on February 5, 2011


but can you pop a wheelie on it?
posted by palacewalls at 10:05 PM on February 5, 2011


For what it's worth, riding a unicycle is not nearly as difficult as it looks. Head down to your local circus supply shop and you too can "rethink what a 'frame' is, get rid of basic key components, and create a new type of urban cycling."
And the best part is, nobody will ever steal it. Why would they? It's a unicycle!

I am dead serious. Unicycles are awesome.
posted by marakesh at 10:18 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you won't be able to go very fast in it, it would be the same as pedaling a very low gear ratio intended for hill climbing.

My wife has a triple with an 11/32 cassette and her lowest ratio is 1.06, IIRC It's only of any use while head up the steepest hills. In a straight line on a flat road, the cadence would have to be super high to even get going 10 mph.

Interesting idea, but not very much fun.
posted by Argyle at 10:38 PM on February 5, 2011


I'm hill people by birth so of course those won't work as a practical matter. I do like the cleanliness of the look (or form factor or whatever the term of art is these days). The thought of riding one of those though brings to mind renting a limousine and standing up through the sunroof: it's something that is likely fun but igrifying to watch.
posted by vapidave at 10:40 PM on February 5, 2011


Ok yeah but where do I wrap the innertube so it stays afloat when I use it for this sort of thing because I wouldn't ride it anywhere it looks hurty.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:43 PM on February 5, 2011


One of these showed up when I was looking at this thread.

Life imitates art.
posted by Graygorey at 10:58 PM on February 5, 2011


... the world needs thoughts on simplification, part reduction and greater product life span.

The world needs a larger font, much more contrast between text and background, and, in an ideal world, serifs. Crikey, that is hard to read.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:59 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for someone to bring this into commercial production.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 11:06 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, riding a unicycle is not nearly as difficult as it looks. Head down to your local circus supply shop and you too can "rethink what a 'frame' is, get rid of basic key components, and create a new type of urban cycling."

Yep. Here's my buddy Kris Holm showin' us two-wheelers how it's done.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:28 PM on February 5, 2011


Go for it, crazy bike designing people! Ignore the cranks!

Actually, I'd like to see that one.
posted by contraption at 11:31 PM on February 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's great. I doubt I'd buy one, my relationship with bicycles is way utilitarian and this looks not so good for that. Why don't they tuck a hub-gear in the thing, one of those German Rohloff sexy ones, in the wheel and viola!
posted by From Bklyn at 11:54 PM on February 5, 2011


And I'd never seen and in-hub freewheel like that before.

Admittedly, I hadn't watched the videos before posting this. I'm actually pretty impressed with the in-hub freewheel -- I'd assumed this was a "proper" fixed gear bike. The in-hub freewheel, combined with the fact that the thing doesn't outright collapse onto itself makes it a pretty cool (if not pointless) bit of engineering.

I'll be even more impressed when they can cram a hub gear in there (which, I might add, are woefully underrepresented in the world of American bicycles, despite their extreme durability and practicality). Actually, the folks at Velib and Bixi would probably be extremely interested in such a design, as you'd have created a practical commuter bike that's essentially maintenance-free.

Damn. I almost feel bad for making fun of them in my post. They might be one step away from a truly brilliant design.
posted by schmod at 12:08 AM on February 6, 2011


Let me summarize the unicycle:

1. For city riding, unicycles may be as quick as plain walking, but they give your legs a much better work out (and cramps).
2. They may keep your feet off the ground, but ruin the inseams of your trouser legs.
3. They make you stand out, but if you are hurrying to a meeting in a full suit, you may not enjoy the attention.
4. They may be relatively easy to carry (or push), but there are still places where they'll be frowned upon if brought inside (plus once in you'll find they're not really that small).
5. Who wants to steal a unicycle, right? Well, they might not, but still, how are you going to chain it to a lamppost? Would you leave it lying about in the street?
6. Going down a flat free stretch of pavement is fun, but the following things are not: curbs, steps, puddles, sudden depressions, small dogs, throngs of people just standing around, making unpredictable little movements, red lights, larger inclines (both ways). Also, men carrying large plate glass across streets.
7. Kris Holm may be one great guy, but you are not him (unless you are, that is).

That is why, for my city commuting needs barring serious work, I use inline skates and only have to deal with looks like "Hey, is this 2002 all over again?" or "look at the funny grown up acting like a child". (though if I really want to be there fast, I just run)
posted by Laotic at 1:13 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


3. They make you stand out, but if you are hurrying to a meeting in a full suit, you may not enjoy the attention.

If I rode a unicycle, I would dress as a mime or a clown.

Which is at turns out means, I'll never ride a unicycle.

*Sad clown face..*
posted by Skygazer at 1:25 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


These look interesting, so naturally Metafilter will hate them.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:13 AM on February 6, 2011


Laotic, you make some good points, but I disagree with your line items two, three and five, and strongly disagree with four and six. Things that are fun on a unicycle include curbs, steps and red lights since they give you the chance to demonstrate your mastery of "idling". I have not tried riding through plate glass, but it sounds very cinematic. Additionally, I find that a 24" wheel unicycle is able to surmount most smaller dogs and a 36" wheel can climb over any dog smaller than a great dane.
posted by autopilot at 4:47 AM on February 6, 2011


Watching that video made me fear for the guy's knees, can you actually set the seat height on these things or are you doomed to joint pain after about 5 minutes of riding?
posted by Lucien Dark at 5:00 AM on February 6, 2011


Bicycle Rights! Bike! I'm on a bike here.
posted by fixedgear at 6:04 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just buy a unicycle already! or, for ultimate minimalism, stand on a big rock and logroll.

Somewhere between the unicycle and the log you'll find this thing.
posted by Anything at 7:01 AM on February 6, 2011


Heh heh, I bet the designer didn't realize he fucked up the gearing until he was pedaling the prototype. I am further amused that his solution took the form of an artist's statement rather than an engineering change. C'mon Joey, can't you design custom parts when you need them?

The design can't use an off-the-shelf hub gear since those can't transmit torque between the crank arms. Bottom brackets have to be hugely strong to resist the stress of e.g. standing on the pedals. If you want to keep the BB in the hub, you'll have to design your own with internal epicyclic gearing. Pedals to the sun, fixed carrier, and spokes connected to the ring. Double up the planet gears or you'll need to pedal backwards.

There might be a simpler way to do the mechanics, but a single speed modified epicyclic shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge. It'll require some actual engineering, but you can probably just contract that out.
posted by ryanrs at 7:58 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


23skidoo: These look interesting, so naturally Metafilter will hate them.

It's not really that interesting. All it is is a odd-looking singlespeed fixed into an unusably low gear.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:15 AM on February 6, 2011


I can't believe we've come to the point where bicycles are a topic that Metafilter Doesn't Do Well.

I thought this was a neat post, and am entirely neutral on hipsters.

Young people in large American cities share certain fashion and cultural characteristics that appear silly to people outside those groups? Fascinating that I've never heard of this before, but I don't see why this needs to *always* dilute the discussion of something interesting that people who may or may not be self identified members of this subculture have done.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:16 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about designers getting their hands on bikes, or 'concept bikes,' or a lot of the "fun/new/good-looking bikes!" that appear all over the internet every now and then:

They don't work well.

Bicycles, as they are, work pretty well, and they're also shaped the way they are for a reason. And yet, any time some designer, or some art school student, or whatever, tries to redesign the bicycle, they create way more problems than they solve. I think that's dumb.

And yes, what I'm trying to say is that kids should stay off my bike-filled lawn. Or, maybe what I'm trying to say is that it would be nice if designers of concept bikes and other stupid things solved actual problems instead of spraying their ignorance all over things I like.

Crank over, back to work with me.
posted by entropone at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


a topic that Metafilter Doesn't Do Well

Can we have a moratorium on this sort of observation? The topics that we don't do well are some of the best topics on Metafilter--they generate big threads full of interesting discussion where you actually have interested parties from several sides fighting it out.

If Metafilter starts self-limiting to only those topics that it does well, this is going to be a mighty boring place.
posted by fatbird at 10:05 AM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think the thread's gone great. We've had some thoughtful discussion of bicycle design, some good fun jokes, and we've hated the hipsters. Seems about perfect, really.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:12 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love singlespeeds with unusually low gear ratios--but then, I like to ride slow.
posted by box at 11:12 AM on February 6, 2011


It'll require some actual engineering, but you can probably just contract that out.

Of course, doing this would probably interfere with the stated goal of low-maintenance bikes with few moving parts.

I am also compelled to point out for the record that this isn't a fixed-gear bike, but rather a single-speed with disc brakes (the disc brakes being another way in which this is not as simple and maintainable as it could be).
posted by whir at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2011


That is why, for my city commuting needs barring serious work, I use inline skates and only have to deal with looks like "Hey, is this 2002 all over again?" or "look at the funny grown up acting like a child". (though if I really want to be there fast, I just run)

Inline skates indeed. Who can out-minimalist-hipster the Amish, some of whom have adopted them because bicycles are too anti-community.
posted by meowzilla at 11:39 AM on February 6, 2011


These look interesting, so naturally Metafilter will hate them.

It's not really that interesting. All it is is a odd-looking singlespeed fixed into an unusably low gear.

Yeah, when I said "look", I was talking about the appearance, and when I said "interesting", I meant "different".

These look interesting.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2011


Anyway, I never really got the hate for this sort of thing around there. So it's probably not a revolution. It does play around a bit with ideas about minimalism, low maintenance, simplicity, and style however. Why not?

Well, in my humble, casual bicycle rider opinion, the design is stupid--as a practical matter. In that video the guy barely flexes his knees at all. Probably because the length is so short and he's all bent over and squished up. Without proper leg extension you have that much less power and less power means less control.

Also, notice how the guy in the video is on flat ground? I'd like to see someone tackle some hills with that; it would not be fun at all.
posted by zardoz at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2011


entropone: "Bicycles, as they are, work pretty well, and they're also shaped the way they are for a reason."

Unfortunately, one of the major reasons is "to comply with UCI regulations." The UCI has stringent standards for competition-legal road bicycles, track bicycles, and even mountain bicycles, and in many cases those standards forbid worthwhile innovations such as the Zipp models I linked earlier, prone bicycles, and both the Obree positions. As an unfortunate consequence, there is very little incentive to break the existing paradigms, because manufacturers design around competition cyclists' needs.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:37 PM on February 6, 2011


The inner city bike was designed [...] as a project asking questions about ultra short inner city travel. What is needed, who is riding, and how far are they going.

Unfortunately, they became too fixated on producing some kind of trendy, designey, ultra-minimalist fixie, because the real solution to those questions already exists: it's a smallish, lightweight foldable bike:

- that you could stash away under your bed or in a cupboard
- that you can legally carry onto buses & trains (without paying extra)
- that you can carry inside if you want instead of chaining it up
- that easily fits into the trunk of a car, eg a taxi, so you can bike part way, drive part way (or vice versa) or ride there & taxi home
- that isn't super fast, but fast enough, and great for short hops around town

Problem is, these already exist, so they wouldn't be able to wave their designey dicks for simply reinventing the wheel, and instead had to come up with something impractical & douchey.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:48 PM on February 6, 2011


Unfortunately, they became too fixated on producing some kind of trendy, designey, ultra-minimalist fixie, because the real solution to those questions already exists: it's a smallish, lightweight foldable bike

Disagree. That would be the Bixi bike.

If your city has a good bikesharing system, you don't need to figure out where to stuff your bike when you're not using it. You also generally don't have to worry about maintenance or theft.

Personally, I'm a big fan of the (quite substantial) design effort that went into the Bixi bikes. Although most people initially notice that they're heavy as fuck, bucking the trend of decades of bicycle design, this is a feature, not a bug. Among other things, they're sturdy as a tank, and rather difficult to steal. All chains, cables, and wires are routed through the inside of the frame, reducing the necessary maintenance on these components, and minimizing the chances that you'll get dirty while riding (which the fenders help with too). The hub gears will probably outlive the rest of the bicycle, and the dynamo-powered LEDs are a nice safety feature.

I wouldn't want to ride one more than a few miles, but then again, they weren't designed for that purpose. They're much more pleasant to ride than any folding model I've tried out.
posted by schmod at 10:08 PM on February 6, 2011


If your city has a good bikesharing system

These have failed dismally so far down under, because of compulsory helmet laws.

They're just starting to set up some kind of vending machines for returnable helmets in Melbourne (which then need to be sterilised & de-loused) but not at every stand of bikes, and I think there's still some kind of shitty pre-enrolment system involving security deposits & credit cards & crap like that.

In other words, you may be right about the bikes themselves, but the powers that be make it damn near impossible to actually use them, unless you're in the habit of carrying a helmet around wherever you go.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:26 PM on February 6, 2011


So, what you're saying is that it's easier to get people to carry around portable bicycles and helmets than it is to get them to carry around just the helmet?
posted by schmod at 10:32 PM on February 6, 2011


In a way, yes. I know, it's a bit counterintuitive, but if I'm going out on either my regular bike or the foldable one, then a helmet is just part of the deal. You go cycling, you wear your helmet. I think that's the difference - it's either on your head, or it's locked up with the bike with the D-lock through the straps. It's not like you really carry it anywhere much.

Bikeshare, in comparison, means you carry the helmet around (where? in your bag where it takes up ALL the space?) all day, just on the off chance that you might nip across town on a bike. I guess if you planned it, then maybe that would be OK.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:34 AM on February 7, 2011


If your city has a good bikesharing system, you don't need to figure out where to stuff your bike when you're not using it. You also generally don't have to worry about maintenance or theft.
nthing this. I love using the Bixi when I visit Montreal because I can wander the city without having to bring along locks, a patch kit or a pants cuff. My girlfriend and I used to bring our bikes along whenever we'd visit, just because it was nicer to ride around the city than to rely on Bus/Metro, but now we just bring helmets.

I do wish that they'd be a little sleeker, but I imagine that folks who really care about that will eventually buy the bike that fits their aesthetic and living/storage circumstances. I just hope that a bike share will resurrect those thousands of urbanites who have a bike rusting in their basement that they will totally ride if only they got it fixed up at a shop 'some day'.
posted by bl1nk at 5:56 AM on February 7, 2011


I was absolutely positive that I'd seen this posted on Metafilter before, until I remembered that I saw one of these at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.

How bizarre and terrifying is it that my metafilter memories are now, apparently, crowding out my experiences of the real world? I assume that the RAM in my noggin is still fairly fresh but this is an unsettling revelation. Perhaps a break from the blue is in order - but I've set myself a favorites goal and I mean to reach it. My spouse has promised to bake me a blue cake. Come on, brain, keep it together for a few more days.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:52 AM on February 7, 2011


young white man with a dumb ironic hat and a full beard

You, obviously, are not a hat person. There is nothing dumb or ironic about a fine driving cap.

And as a possessor of a fine full beard as well, may I also gently suggest that you get bent?

full disclosure: I never learned to ride a bicycle, ironically or otherwise
posted by FatherDagon at 1:12 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


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