From hauling groceries and kids, to getting drunk friends safely home, the cargo bike is extremely useful in urban situations and occupies a special place in many TreeHuggers' hearts. And these hard-working bikes are a diverse bunch too, coming in folding, solar-powered or upscale, department store versions. From a team of design graduates and professors from Portugal's Polytechnic of Viana Do Castelo comes this electric-assist cargo bike that sports a lot of style -- and eco-minded materials like cork and leather details made by local craftsmen.
Dubbed Raiooo ("rai" means "spokes" and the triple O's are a reference to the three wheels), this vehicle was designed for a comfortable and stable ride around the city for urban residents who want to get their daily errands done with a minimum of fuss.
It's urban practicality married to the sustainable ideals of reducing waste using locally available materials and digital fabrication. The Raiooo is also an instance of various local and global, handmade and digitally made components coming together: the bike's aluminum parts represent industrialism, while the locally made leather bags are a work of traditional craftsmanship. The leather bags are detachable, with the smaller one holding an emergency kit. The cork components and plywood panels are digitally fabricated using CNC machines; the seat was 3D-printed using the polytechnic's digital fabrication lab, while the front fork and handlebars were made from woods like beech, mahogany, and more exotic woods like eucalyptus and sucupira.
The combination of metal, wood, leather and cork makes for a bike that looks and feels quite organic; the battery, controller and wires all hidden in the central plywood body, lending a clean look to the bike as well. Believing that the cargo bike should have a larger role to play in urban transport, the creators are working with commercial manufacturers to hopefully bring this lovely yet pragmatic prototype from design academia to the market. More about the Raiooo on Domus and Behance.