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The Green Life: Bikes Reimagined: 3 Groundbreaking Designs

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October 28, 2013

Bikes Reimagined: 3 Groundbreaking Designs

These innovators think they have the answer for re-imagining the bikeWhile we often marvel over the beauty and simplicity of the bicycle, we aren't usually surprised by new designs. Yes, shifting systems have become more complex, bikes are constantly becoming more lightweight, and styles have certainly changed. But the bike's basic structure — the fork, the frame, the wheels — has remained basically the same for years.

A few brave innovators, however, have decided to take a hammer to the classic bike — simplifying it, making it more efficient, and crafting it into a more versatile machine. These three groundbreaking new designs caught our attention.

The Bicymple
For those of you who thought the fixed gear bike was too bare bones comes the bicymple — a chainless single-speed that looks like two unicycles fused together. This simple bike presents the rider with extra movement capabilities, a very light build, and as seen in the video below, a new way to revisit the bike. Josh Bechtel, the Washington-based designer of the bike, created a Kickstarter for the bicymple that was successfully funded for double the goal amount. Bechtel is now taking preorders for the bike.


The Copenhagen Wheel
Designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and unveiled in 2009, the Copenhagen Wheel is a fully functional wheel with a hub housed within it that collects the energy from braking and pedaling for use as a speed assist whenever the rider needs a boost. The innovative wheel, which is operated by smartphone, also tracks rider data, traffic congestion, and even air pollution. As a bonus, the wheel can fit on virtually any bike, allowing riders to keep their own steel horse instead of retiring it for an e-bike if they ever switch to future models. The team has recently received over $2 million in funding to start major production of the wheel.


A complete reimagining not only of spokes but of the wheel itself, the loopwheel offers riders a mini-wheel with a lot of capabilities. Housed inside the small wheels are three spring-like bands, which contract and bounce like simplified shocks, completely eliminating spokes and making riding over curbs or potholes a breeze. Although these cool wheels are only available for the custom loopwheel bike at this time, the designer has plans for 26-inch wheels in the near future. But either way, as the video below shows, the loopwheel has a lot of promise for its potential comfort and rideability.


--Photo by iStockphoto/AaronAmat 

James Rogers is an editorial intern at Sierra. He graduated from Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment, where he studied a combination of environmental studies and journalism. While at Western, he was the editor in chief of The Planet magazine, and he has written for Conservation Northwest QuarterlyPublic Eye Northwestand The Western Front.

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