I haven’t written about cycling recently, or exercise full stop to be honest, as it’s creeping into a brisk British Winter (given after a very nice mild Autumn) versus being too busy with work courtesy of the start of a new academic year and finishing my PhD (it’s happening) versus…well, Amoy tiger isn’t really my friend at the moment as I’ve said, but we know that. So this blog post – ‘I bike, I ride, I cycle’ – looks into all those three things through the work of others, their photography, film and design innovation projects. There are some pretty amazing things being researched and designed out there in the world at the moment…and some people who are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
I’ll start with Lumen, the world’s first commercially available “Retro-Reflective City Bicycle” by the famous Mission Bicycle Company. Designed and built in San Francisco, the Lumen is the first of its kind: ‘a bicycle designed specifically for city riding with integrated retro-reflection.’ It is a patented innovation that returns any light that hits the Lumen’s frame and wheels directly back to the light source. Mission are building single speed and fully geared bikes in 5 different sizes. It is ‘A 100% retro-reflective city bicycle inspired by late nights, city lights, and full moons.’ that was initially funded by a kickstarter project earlier in the year.
Next is a new “invisible” inflatable helmet – Hövding – designed by Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt, who ‘took on a giant challenge as an exam project. Something no one had done before. If they could swing it, it would for sure be revolutionary. The bicycle is a tool to change the world. If we use bikes AND travel safe: Life will be better for all.’ “If people say it’s impossible we have to prove them wrong.” These two women from Sweden took their invisible bike helmet to the 2014 European Inventor Award, where it is also one of five projects that won an award at INDEX this year. It was the result of extensive research and airbag technology, where the helmet deploys only when it detects an impending crash.
“Hövding is a collar for bicyclists, worn around the neck. The collar contains a folded up airbag that you’ll only see if you happen to have an accident. The airbag is shaped like a hood, surrounding and protecting the bicyclist’s head. The trigger mechanism is controlled by sensors which pick up the abnormal movements of a bicyclist in an accident. The actual collar is the visible part of the invention. It’s covered by a removable shell that you can change to match your outfit, and we’ll be launching new designs all the time. Hövding is a practical accessory that’s easy to carry around, it’s got a great looking yet subtle design, and will save your life. ” – Anna Hupt
Of course, I have to mention the Factory 5 guys in Shanghai and their new flagship store which is about to open in the Jing’an district of central Shanghai, China, on 29 November 2014 at 7pm. Join them for what is going to be one unforgettable party. It’s next level, next step for those guys and what started as a tiny bespoke bike building shop in a small unit in the back streets of the city…and next time I’m in Shanghai in March 2015, I can’t wait to see the new place and them of course…and perhaps get a new bike made. I’ve been thinking about it for a while…well about a bespoke frame anyway.
Next are images from my Shanghai friend Robert Lamb’s blog, that documents his cycle times in China. Nice images, nice reminders. I miss cycling in Shanghai so much! Cycling en masse with the locals…cycling en masse with my friends…cycling on my own with such freedom and conviction. It’s not the same in the UK and certainly doesn’t have the same dynamism in the scene or the respect from the other road users and car drivers. That is definitely something that needs to be taught more when you are learning to drive here in the UK. Just saying…
Next is the ‘DENNY’ made by Teague and Sizemore Bicycle, voted winner of the 2014 Oregon Manifest bike design project. The Manifest’s project is an independent platform which partners high-level design firms with american bicycle craftsmen to develop the next-wave urban utility bike. The Teague and Sizemore creation was chosen as the best utility velocipede and will be built by Fuji Bikes. The two-wheeler has a detachable and quick stop handlebar lock and flexible storage to aid its use in the city. as well, the safety is improved as it is fitted with a rechargeable battery, which powers the brake lights, indicators and the electric assisted pedal.
Now a couple of short films, the first by Janne Amunét/KAUAS Creative on KONGA BICYCLES who’s mission is to: build.ride.sleep.repeat. I know another bike company that pretty much lives and breathes by those rules as well…the Factory 5 guys in Shanghai who I have already mentioned.
Finally, this short film ‘Titanium Factory’ from Exposure Media Productions gives an insight into bike manufacturing in Beijing, China. When most people think of Chinese bike manufacturing, they think of mass production. China is also home to small-scale factories that take pride in the craft of making frames. This film about the Titanium Bike Factory in Beijing that has been hand making frames for 20 years, shows the craftsmen behind this niche trade…their skill and dedication to making some of the most bespoke bike parts for the world’s bike users.