Electrified Market on the Move-In Between Concepts Now and Then
TEAMS Design Trend Story Bike III
The third and last part of our posts about current & future bike trends is a glimpse on the innovative e-bike market and its most promising concepts in the open field between motorcycle, scooter, and bike. This shall conclude our bike series and consider established and new concepts, how neighboring markets influence each other and what the factors of success can be.
Technology Push (engine-, battery-, connectivity- and peripheral technologies are introduced on a daily basis), demand pull ( see our first article) but also infrastructural and municipal politics influence the inter-conceptual market between bike and motorcycle. From bike near to motorcycle near concepts we selected the most promising ones to find out what will crystalize in the future.
“Still a mountain-/racebike or already an e-bike? Fascinating anyway! Fun to drive.” Is what the media say about bikes equipped with a Fazua setup. So let’s start with the most minimalist version of an e-bike: The Fazua engine and management deliver a perfect match between the dynamics of pure cycling and motor support with a gentle, crank dependent torque propulsion. The bicycles stay archetypical with the super light 2kg power pack that can be entirely removed. Once the battery-motor-package is out, the bikes ride like their conventional opposites. Success factors: lightweight and seamless/intelligent integration of motor support.
Bike Lane SUVs
One step further: trekking longer distances at higher speed, still free to use any track, more extensive trips with more luggage or for those who love bike traveling and don’t want to stop it in higher age. Or transporting nearly everything by bike, if it’s your two Kids, a surfboard (Don´t you have one with you every day?) or some boxes of beer, most likely all at the same time — no matter. And all that without the unmanageable turning circle and weird driving characteristics of two-wheeled cargo tankships. You seldom see Columbus’ egg-like simple but smart bike frame concepts like that: the midtail. Riese & Müller offers its Multicharger in a “Cross-Cargo” dress, Benno Bikes from California has a broad portfolio of this awesome bike. Sneaking through narrow traffic is easy with the Tern GSD. Success factors: the midtail is a great crossover frame concept through nothing but a longer back part unifying advantages like maneuverability and load capacity as well as reasonable dimensions. Hoping to see a lot more of that.
The Long and Short Haul
May it be a little bit more? Going further away from more or less conventional bike frames and two-wheelers, we come to the group of cargo bikes. An own market which is endlessly diverse, so we selected our favorites and most innovative concepts to see what they can tell about the future. Loading possibilities of a mid-size car with the agility and flexibility of a bicycle through tilt technology and intelligent frame layout are positive factors. Lining up all elements behind each other like classic cargo frames finally will not make it to the masses since bulkiness is not an option. So even if cargo bikes already require less space than a car or Van, they still need an intelligent layout to be a relevant step forward. Styling and the smart derivation of sports bike elements is the right way to make cargo desirable even if you do not haul baby elephants around town on a daily base.
Now to the mergers of bike and motorcycle. Having been one of the highlights of the Eurobike show, the Haibike Flyon is a clear trendsetter taking a huge step forward. Partly this goes towards the automotive world with unique features like the TQ HPR120S motor (currently the most powerful motor on the market), matching chainrings, high number of styled details and precise surfaces to echo automotive design, air inlets in the head tube for cooling the battery and intelligent cable management as well as backlights in the chainstays, to name some. The Bultaco Brinco is a nice example of how a motorcycle company interprets an e-mountain bike bringing in new approaches like frame and forks made from cast aluminum. E-bikes or already motoX machines? The lines are vanishing, and we are watching the development of new categories, the exchange of elements and styling.
Blurring The Boundaries
The next group of bikes can still be propelled by pedaling, whereas their design is strongly inspired by motorcycles, lifestyle- and retro elements which deliver solid concept stories. The Ruffian from Ruff Cycles is an electric Harley-Davidson interpretation, the Unimoke utility e-bike is an all-rounder for the city, forest and snow just like the Juiced Scrambler, which is a speed pedelec. Like in the sports segment, the intense play with traded elements and symbols and their influence in giving unseen concepts a story is visible. So the success factors in this area are correspondent: the right use of an attractive story and a consequent implementation in the design.
To finish our small survey, we selected three concepts coming from the motorcycle and scooter world orienting to bikes respectively the idea of lightweight transport. The CAKE is a high performance electric off-road motorbike made for trail/enduro and eco-friendly free ride use adapting mountain bike elements. Created by China-based custom bike shop Shanghai Customs, the eCUB successfully combines the stripped scooter’s minimalist design cues with electric performance derived from the bike market. This custom build lets the 1950’s bike create zero emissions while carrying an understated elegance. Niu Scooters are mentionable for their great styling, breaking the way for e-scooters.
There is a vast number of concepts exploring the field between bikes and motorcycles and chances are great, considering advantages in pure practicality, appeal, economy or joy of use. To answer the question from the beginning in short, what are the factors of success, if the market consolidates?
Filtering and transferring symbolic elements from an attractive product category or just from a glorified past is the crucial push for any new concept since it creates the story behind and produces/steers associations. The ideas behind most leisure concepts are based on the interplay of styles and symbolism.
Some cargo trends distance themselves more and more from typical bicycle looks, especially through their functionality. Everything carrying more than one person should have an intelligent Tetris inspired layout to combine load capacity, driving performance and dimensions, thereby enlarging the market.
Authenticity, concept fit, and design quality even at lower price ranges stay crucial.
This is part of an ongoing series we at TEAMS Design are producing to discuss future trends we are researching in the bike industry.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on August 28, 2018.