Is this the commuter bike of the future?

Thanks to Chainreaction Hub for this post:

Is this the commuter bike of the future?

Category: Latest News

Published on Monday, 28 October 2013 12:09

Written by Matt Cole

We’re big fans of concept bikes, gadgets and general innovation in the cycling industry, and we know you are too.

This concept bike dubbed ‘Transport’ is the latest to capture our interest. It’s a commuter bicycle design project sponsored by SRAM and developed by three Georgia Tech students, Matthew Campbell, Edwin Collier and David Hotard. It has a hubless front wheel and uses the freed up space for transporting cargo.

Why? We spoke to one of the project’s creators, David Hotard – a keen triathlete and regular cyclist – to find out…

“Although panniers and saddle bags are on the market to make commuting easier, we found that many cyclists prefer to ride with a traditional backpack. This doesn’t mean that a backpack is comfortable; it\’s just more practical than the panniers that clip to a rack.

“We discovered that many commuters didn’t want a bag that felt like a dedicated commuting bag but rather a bag that would work in any scenario. We started to look at what we do with bags when we’re traveling by car, plane, train, and other means and realised that there is almost always a compartment for them. We realised that what commuters wanted was that compartment… on their bike.”

The making of Transport

Before the final prototype was made, the team produced a number of 1/8-scale models using laser-cut chipboard, foam, MDF as well as full-scale cardboard/foam models.

Testing the storage compartment theory on an existing bike.

The storage compartment was made using PET-G, vacuum-formed over a sign foam mold.

The wooden hubless wheel takes shape.

This is a foam model of the hubless wheel prototype.

Similar to the Lunartic design seen here, the wheel rotates around a system of six bearings.

Sticking with the ‘low maintenance, aimed at commuters’ brief, the rear wheel is built around an internally geared hub.

The team added plasma-cut steel supports in high-stress areas, then applied Bondo body filler and used lots of elbow grease to sand it all smooth.

The frame was painted with filler primer and automotive paint. Here are some more pics of the as-yet unrideable prototype…

What’s the feedback been like so far?

“The general consensus has been both positive and negative. Many people are enthusiastic about the idea of adding some practicality to a hubless/spokeless bicycle wheel and believe that this kind of functionality could justify the cost and engineering required to produce it.

“On the other hand, there has been uproar from ‘experts’ who disagree about the feasibility of the design. Their concerns generally include the placement of the bag, steering, crosswinds, and geometry.

“I greatly appreciate the constructive criticism and am looking forward to addressing many of these in a redesign. Often times as a designer, especially in student work, we look to push the boundaries by challenging arenas such as material, function, and emotion. In our prototype, we aimed to illustrate the idea that a commuter bike may not necessarily have to look like a loaded down mule, but rather a speedy bike with the bags tucked away. This idea was driven by user research that exposed serious cyclists who wanted to maintain the same bike geometry on their commuter bike, look and feel fast, and avoid bulky add-ons. I think as technology advances we will constantly be pushing the boundaries of bicycle design.

“My team is happy about the discussion our design is generating and I\’m looking forward to progressing the project along.”

Are there plans to make a rideable model?

“Given the attention the project has received, there are some preliminary plans to build a rideable model. Most likely this would be in the form of a fork/wheel subsystem that I will install on my own commuter bike. I am also considering making the trunk easily detachable when not in use.”

Thanks to David for taking the time to tell us more about the Transport bike, and we\’ll be keeping an eye out for more developments in the future.

via Is this the commuter bike of the future?.

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