Cycle: Five Futuristic Innovations That Could Change the Future of Bicycling
The bicycle is one of the great, pure designs. Two wheels joined by a rigid frame strong enough to carry at least one person and perhaps some cargo, propelled by the strength of that person through a basic linkage of gearing.
There's not a lot of room for improvement, which is why the bike is one of those machines that has seen little enhancement since its modern inception in the mid-1800s. Sure, there are constant changes to materials and gearing, but the basic design has essentially remained the same.
That does not mean grand invention is not constantly attempted when it comes to our two-wheeled rigs and some of the accessories that accompany them. Here are five new innovations to the bike and bike use that are turning some heads.
5. Portable Bike Lane
One of cycling's never ending debates is about how truly safe it is to ride amongst traffic on city streets. Marked bike lanes help to show drivers where bikes can safely ride, and lights illuminate the cyclist when daylight gets thin and a little extra visibility could help. Designers at Altitude, Inc. have combined these two concepts to create Light Lane, a prototype laser-emitted bike lane that clips to the seat post so that drivers will always see the lane around the cyclist, further encouraging the already established three foot rule. The design was awarded the Gold International Design Excellence Award in 2009.
4. Hubless Wheels
Since the beginning, a bike's drivetrain was always based around the idea of some mechanism at the wheel's hub turning the wheel to create propulsion. But why not move that mechanism from the center to the rim? It typically looks great in concept design but is it pragmatic? British designer Luke Douglas thinks so and has actually created Lunartic, a working belt driven hubless rear-wheeled bike that he claims will make a bike more compact without reducing performance. It looks like a reversed Penny Farthing, but at normal size and early report say that keeping the drive system at the wheel makes the bike more stable.