Future Electric Bicycles

Things change (to say the obvious)

Sometimes they stay the same for a long time and then change happens faster and faster.

The first cars were rather like the buggies they replaced and now are changing quickly into many shapes and types from Feraris to Smarts, from Rollers to Micras, from Teslas to Leafs.

The first computers were basement monsters with the mental capacity of an ant, much less than a basic phone, and computers now can be wearable and maybe soon will be smarter than you or I. At the pace that has continued for the last 50 years computers (we won’t call them that any more) will be intelligent specks that are all around us, on us, inside us, and do many tasks for us.

The first bicycles were either penny farthings that one was astride high up and pedalled a big wheel with little pedals or a velocipede that one was astride with feet on the ground pushing. Now they can be very fast, very light, very expensive or slow, heavy and cheap, or in between.

The first electric bikes were essentially an ordinary bicycle with an added motor and battery. For most of the electric bikes produced so far that is still the way they are. Particularly the many millions of them in China. Now that is starting to change. There are many purposefully designed electric bikes on drawing boards, or as prototypes,  and some are being produced, in as yet small numbers.

To design an electric bicycle without constraints is a very good exercise for students of design, as it involves ergonomics, novel materials, and production practicalities. Some design classes have been given that task, and many concepts and some prototypes have resulted from that. I’ve seen maybe a hundred proposed designs that are significantly different. Some will get into production, most won’t.

I will mention in posts here a few electric bicycles that are “different” and are being produced. What I aim to do is write about concepts that have some chance of making it. I’ll look for significant points of difference…for there are very many of a kind…city bikes, mountain bikes, 20″ folding bikes…that are different in only small ways.


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