Cycling is the future of transportation; we’ve been hearing this for years. We’ve also been subjected to plenty of innovative, designer “bikes”, ranging from the eRinGo to the WheelSurf, and to some that don’t look all that different from the UnoCycle. But it looks like the YikeBike, the latest in bicycle design, is catching on with chic nomads in urban centers everywhere. Is this the shape of bikes to come?
It may very well be. Reviews of the Penny Farthing-inspired electric bike have been uniformly positive. What makes YikeBike so special isn’t that it’s compact or electric – both of these elements have been integrated into bicycle design before. No, the YikeBike is unique because it’s so lightweight (10kg) that you can fold it up and carry it onto public transportation, into shops, and up the stairs with ease. Anybody who’s lugged an ungainly bicycle up a tiny flight of stairs can appreciate YikeBike’s innovation.
Here you see the design evolution of the Penny Farthing from the early 19th century to the YikeBike, in 2009.
The original design (by inventor Grant Ryan) is called the Mini Farthing. YikeBike has licensed it and taken it to the production stage. It’s now available for sale in the US, and will soon be sold in a variety of colors. Grant Ryan was intrigued by the idea that a bike could have a dramatic effect on public transportation. ‘I had long scratched my head about why we transported 1-2 tons of metal and other materials with us whenever we drove to work or to the local shops,’ he explains.
To counteract what he saw as wasteful, he started exploring basic bike designs, as well as innovations by Clive Sinclair (theA-Bike) and Dean Kamen (the Segway). ‘I think the Segway is a fantastic engineering feat and is very cool to ride, but it seems to me a bit overly complicated to be mass-market.’ Plus, it’s heavy and you can’t fold it.
Like many inventors before him, Grant put a new spin on an old concept (the Penny Farthing) by melding it with a newer concept (the folding bike), and by making it streamlined and lightweight – and therefore practical. At the same time, he achieved something which most folding bikes have failed at. In other words, it looks cool, not dorky. Who’s getting one?