A bike design competition project to create and produce the "next-wave urban bike" garnered some amazing entries from design firms and their bike builder partners, and while all of the designs had some notable features, one bike rose above them all and was named as the Ultimate Urban Utility Bike.
The project, from Oregon Manifest, took five design teams in five cities and paired them with bicycle builders in those cities, with each team submitting not just a design or rendering, but an actual ridable prototype. April previously covered the designs entered into the competition, and although every commenter is a critic, evidently the voting public felt otherwise, and the winning bike, from Seattle design firm TEAGUE and builder Sizemore Bicycle, took top honors.
The team's entry is named Denny, and this bike is packed full of useful features, whether you're a daily commuter or just a fair weather rider, including handlebars that double as a u-lock, integrated lights (signal, head and tail lights, and safety lights), a built-in front cargo rack, electric assist, belt drive and a novel 'fender' system using brushes.
"Denny is the “all in” cycling solution that meets security, safety and importantly convenience needs. Ultimately, the Denny bike was born from a simple premise, ‘an everyday bike that removes the barriers to becoming an everyday rider’." - Sizemore Bicycle
As seen in the video, the unique handlebar design can be used as a lock while it's still mounted on the fork, or it can be removed entirely and locked around the frame. For carrying stuff on the bike (good luck with those to-go coffee cups, though), the front rack uses a small cargo net to secure items, and instead of resting on the ends of the forks, as most aftermarket racks do, it sits on an extension of the frame itself.
The Denny's lighting system is integrated into the bike itself, and features turn signals and safety lights for visibility, as well as the standard head and tail lights, all of which are said to be "auto-on lights that react to natural light conditions." The electric power assist system, with an automatic gear-shift feature, can take some of the effort out of long rides and hilly roads, although no mention is made of the capacity of the battery or the electric motor in the wheel hub.
One additional feature worth mentioning is the fender system, which aren't really fenders as we're used to (covering the tires), but instead is a "minimal fender design that removes water from the tire" using a brush mounted on a frame surrounding both tires. I'm not totally convinced that this would enable you to ride through rain and slush without getting splattered, but I do acknowledge that if it does work, it could be a useful aftermarket bike component on its own.
As part of the project, the winning entry will be produced by Fuji Bikes, and the Denny may be available as soon as spring of 2015. If you'd like to be notified about the progress on this urban utility bike, you can sign up at Fuji Bikes website.