All you need is... VELO
Although the weather still demands the shelter of a Twike, the VELO bike show in Berlin brought out crowds looking forward to better biking soon.
My vote for most interesting development at the show goes to Aidoo-tec bike trailers, just being introduced to the market. Three separate trailers can be seen in the photo. At the front right, that little package of wheels and bars is an entire trailer folded for storage -- perfect for those seeking to live LifeEdited style. Behind the fold-up, an Aidoo-tec trailer long enough to carry a canoe can be seen. This combo of trailer and folded packet inspires the dream of hauling your boat to water, folding up your bike and trailer into the boat, and paddling off into the sunset. A second configuration of the flexible trailer system can be seen at left.
Reinhard Voigt enthusiastically describes the trailer's torsion bar suspension (see insert in photo above). High-tech elastomers dampen the effect that causes the trailer to give a tug backwards on the bike towing it, improving the efficiency of hauling the load. The trailers are just hitting the market in Germany, priced at 1490 euros (around US$2000). Aidoo-tec will be looking for partners to sell in other global markets.
Trend number one hardly deserves mention, as it is getting press everywhere: electric bikes are booming. We found nothing so cool as the YikeBike or Footloose by Mando, so we won't bore you with photos of more e-assisted wannabes. Better to look at where the trend could take us: the organic bicycle cafe pictured carries a water heater and an entire food truck on pedal power!
Gates carbon drive center track with Rohloff Speedhub
Also trending hot: the Gates carbon drive promises a new era of urban cycling without oil-stained pants. In theory, the long-living belt drives are more cost-effective than chains over the lifetime of a bike. Don't look for it anytime soon on the cheap bikes out of Taiwan though: the belt drives require a higher degree of precision in the frame build, restricting it to higher end models, according to one high-end bike manufacturer.
Having heard contradictory information about the efficiency of the toothed belt drives, we put the Rohloff rep under pressure: which is better -- belt or chain? The answers to these questions are never simple. But in short: the chain is more efficient in normal power ranges, because the belt must be tensioned to prevent slippage which creates higher friction. Competitive riders who can average above 208 watts of power (normal humans can pedal at about 100 watts for an average commute) can benefit from the belt drive as the chain friction increases faster than the belt at these high loads.
Not at VELO, but also on the horizon: I met recently with the owner of Halberstock Mobility, which has patented the Advanced Belt Drive as an alternative to the Gates Carbon Drive. Two rims hold the Advanced Belt Drive on track, which may solve the precision-frame problem, making belt drives available on more bikes.
VELO Berlin, like Berlin itself, integrates art into the techno scene. Pictured above is one of my favorites: cleverly re-purposed bike parts become Larsitos lamps. "100% Re-cycling" indeed.
The VELO short film award candidates can be enjoyed from afar. Winner Guillaume Blanchet's The Man Who Lived On His Bike perfectly captures the feeling of wishing your ride would never end. And if you have not yet seen the inspiring story of the invisible helmet, it is worth seeing. All twenty submittals are available for the next month at the VELO Berlin Film Award website.
One last example of e-bike creactivity: bicycle expresso bar