The 3rd photo gallery covering Day 3 and 4 of the show is now available for viewing on my Flickr account. There’s a lot of video clips that were taken alongside the stills. They’ll be put together into a short movie giving a sense of the show as a whole when, as always, time permits.
Also check out the Taipei Show Daily editions for interesting articles and insight, Day 1 – Day 3.
The top place getters in the International Bicycle Design Competition are the individual winners of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards. (A further, more detailed, post on these to come soon). Next down the hierarchy are a range of models that came close but did not get amongst the medals.
This year there were 5 entries that were awarded the Excellent award. A level below this is the Merit Awards: there were 10 of these awarded.
I have a variety of shots of the scale models that shortlisted entries produced the main subject of this post. These were on display in the room where the ceremony was held across the four days of the show. Themes: folding, interchangeable or transformable forms/modules targeted to urban users.
As concepts that have been translated into scale models there is not much to go on apart from the visuals. The descriptions accompanying each model are really not much more than marketing-speak. Without any specifications to go by there is minimal basis to be making judgments about these. Perhaps the judging panel had access to more information. (Any designers whose work is displayed here is welcome to give further information and explanation of their designs).
A post late last year dealt with the criteria that would be applied in evaluating the entries. Not knowing how these were actually applied by the judges, it’s not much use speculating here on that process.
Michael Turton recently observed that the short-listed entries seem to be a long way the needs and realities of actual users. Perhaps the best way to go about evaluating these designs, then, is by applying practicality and elegance as the sort of criteria everyday people would use. a) How useful would it be and b) how attractive is it?
This gets back to the issue of the market and what level of demand could be expected from which consumer niche. And niche is a key concept here.
Designers may be secretly longing to strike gold with their design and capturing broad market appeal, but the place to start is looking at a particular group or category and any potentially unmet need there might be. Viewed in this light, these designs are each in their own ways answers to questions that the designers believe consumers are asking.
Whether or not designs go on to see commercial success is not quite the issue though. As mentioned elsewhere, each design may be a dead-end in itself, or one more step on a long road to an optimal product that comes to connect directly and powerfully with a particular consumer niche.
I present them here in the order they were announced.
Xeno Michael Jaritz, Austria
This proposes a new suspension design allowing the user to adjust it according to the terrain. Lights are integrated into the handlebars and seatpost. A locking mechanism is located close to one hub.
Attractive: I think it is. Useful: need more info highlighting its uniqueness in these respects.
RSV – Running Sport’s Vehicle Axel Thallemer, Dominik Diensthuber, Martin Danzer, Elke Backlmair, Florian Nimmervoll, Austria
See my remarks in last week’s post.
U.L.E.V Ryan Aubrey, Terrance Cong Li, Michael Vranas, Payam Shalchian, Canada
One theme of this year’s offerings is adaptability (or easy interchangeable parts) for variable uses which is evident in the U.L.E.V. The retractable seat allows quick dismounting whilst the baton and shield are located in the front wheel assembly and presumably easily removed. There are specific storage modules supporting key police functions such as for documents and a first aid kit.
Attractive: it’s very ‘official’ looking Useful: it certainly targets its niche very well.
U3 Heath Reed, UK
A long wheel-base, large-wheel folding bike the idea being to provide a greater level of comfort in riding that existing small-diameter wheel folding bikes. It folds up quickly and easily.
Attractive: the Xeno is more of a looker. I guess the U3 folding solution has lead its use function to impinge a lot on its appearance. Useful: large (the lighter the better) wheels in a folding urban bike – definitely!
Movo Roger Sui Yin MAK, HK
A pedelec with a removable power core in the front section. You take this away and lock the rear to your railing or bike rack. This is important since the battery is the most expensive part.
Attractive: it does not look like an electric bike! Useful: the U3’s larger diameter wheels give it an edge perhaps in terms of comfort.
Bihandy Chi-Ku Chen, Chieh-Ming Tsia, Yuan-Liang Yu, Taiwan
The first of several featuring a single-support fork. This transforms into a trolley to attach to another Bihandy (good marketing – you’d need a minimum of two!). The green section is a detachable storage case. Interestingly the information about this suggests it targets the “group that excessively depends on motorcycles for short-distance transportation”, which seems to have Taiwan specifically in mind.
Attractive: needs work Useful: for its target group, yes
Last year’s Bronze Medal winner, Yu-Shu Lin’s (Taiwan) Solar Knight.
Thin(k)er Chia-Lung Lee, Sheng Liu, Taiwan
One I previewed last week. Designed for university campus transport with rotating stem and folding pedals. This makes it easy to slip in between other bikes and parked cars.
Attractive: needs work Useful: limited since I’m not sure the problem it is designed to solve is that much of a problem. But, then, where it is a problem, then this unit may well have a market.
Sorena Mahdi Momeni, Iran
This targets younger people with an adjustable top tube (looks like one or two sizes could fit all?). It is envisaged to handle like an MTB and is foldable. Single support fork and chain stay.
Attractive: I would imagine for a good portion of its intended audience. Useful: folding, large diameter wheels, getting young people who want a cool look where they want to go.
Reusable Public Bike Yujin Kim, South Korea
Envisaged as a public city bike. It has the same modules on the front and the rear – cost effective manufacturing.
Attractive: marginal (just saying) Useful: public bike schemes are going ahead everywhere. This model would also seem to offer efficiencies regarding maintenance with the modules.
Power Jun-jie Wang, China
Electric assist folding bike with unique folding structure. Single support fork.
Appearance: said to be sporty and dynamic. It shares a similar geometry with the Sorena although the Sorena comes out in front here. Useful: electric assist is a (the?) way to tap into the Blue Ocean of non-cyclists that Mark Sanders suggests is the way ahead for the bicycle industry.
Pedal Squared Chu-Wei Yang, Jade Chang, Taiwan
Targetted to urban commuters traveling short distances with adjustable seat height. Attractive: as much as it can be for a twin-crank/tandem arranged in this way. Useful: definitely although storage would be an issue.
Lugga Tian-Ge Wang, China
A folding bike that doubles as a luggage trolley targeted to travelers.
Attractive: Working softer lines into the geometry to take away the mechanical look (when unfolded), IMO. Useful: putting together (within or between terminal?) transiting with a bicycle is interesting and may find a niche. The unit itself may be heavier than any luggage – itself qualifies as luggage.
Just One Step Jason Wan, China
Easy-to-fold with folding completed in one step, hence the name, a very marketable name I would have thought. Single support fork. Single chain stay.
Attractive: delicate elegance to appeal to a certain type of user. Useful: what are its key differentiating point?
iPteromyini Noah Chen, Carl Wang, China
Similar to the Reusable Public Bike above it has wheel modules. Single fork support and chain stay. Attractive: solid pass Useful: can be (easily and quickly?) disassembled for storage.
Guluxuan 2010 Song-shou Xie, China
2-step foldable (very) L cargo-carrying EV. I like this.
Attractive: as far as “cargo” bikes go. Useful: most certainly
Eco-Driving Key Point Joon-Ki Park, Myoung-Gwon Cho, South Korea
Combines features of an on-road steed for urban usage and off-road use. Attractive: it’s a work in progress Useful: seems like a front shock would be better than a rear shock. The technical case for this needs to be made.
Still, it does make a statement about the bike and the supplied commentary does mention that a vehicle “shows a person’s personality and style”.
Looking ahead. A focus on urban commuting, incorporating efficient folding mechanism with electric assist, and allowing for interchangeable or customizable functions – is this the way for a future design with potential trans-niche mass market appeal?