The Future of Urban Biking

"Denny," the winning design from the Bike Design Project. Photo courtesy of the Bike Design Project.

The cycling revolution will not be silenced. So promises the Bike Design Project, which held a contest featuring teams from five American “cycling-centric cities” — Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle — to design and build the “ultimate urban utility bike.”

The lead is buried a bit far into this article from CityLab (okay, it’s in the last paragraph), but the winning bike design is eventually described thus:

All the cutting-edge style trends are on display in the design that won this week, a model called “Denny” from Teague and Sizemore Bicycle in Seattle. (Fuji Bikes will manufacture it for distribution by next year.) There’s computerized gear shifting, power assist, LED brake lights and turn signals, lights that dim or brighten according to ambient conditions, and a cute little brush that removes water from the back wheel—a fully weaponized package against Seattle’s pesky hills and rain. The handlebar doubles as a removable lock and there’s also a cargo platform to strap down your tray of coffee.

And it does look very sleek: Its solid black and white frame is simple and minimalist, and the LED turning and brake lights, though they seem dim, are quite futuristic. The design’s Vimeo video is definitely more show than tell: Electronic music blasts in the background while trendy youngsters ride around in Seattle’s less-than-perfect weather, using the different features of the bike as they interact with the “unpredictability” of the city.

But Denny is not without its problems. CityLab points out that its detachable batteries could be ecologically damaging if disposed of improperly, and that power assist may mean you burn fewer calories while cycling around, especially if you’ve got a box of donuts on that front rack.

Perhaps most egregiously, the bike could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 if put into mass production, says The Seattle Times, which could begin next year under manufacturing partner Fuji Bikes.

The San Francisco team, a partnership between HUGE Design and 4130 Cycle Works, also put out a neat design. “Evo” would have featured a customizable that could have supported attachments to its front and rear, making it easy to mount attachments like a child’s seat or carrying rack onto the bike, which could also be easily removed.

Sadly or not, Denny won out over Evo. So if you’ve got a year to wait and a few thousand dollars to spend, you can be one of the first to lead the cycling revolution by owning the urban bike of the future.

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