Portions of the Twitterverse lit up in the last two days with admiring tweets about Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman's future bike design, seen at Fast Company and Gizmodo. Boardman's bike, designed with the UK's SkySports, employs carbon fiber, has a fingerprint-activated locking system, 'puncture proof' tires and a small battery assist driven by on-board solar panels. While this bike is cool in many respects, it misses features we think will be important to future cyclists, including the ability to be folded.Boardman said in a SkySports article announcing the bike that he considered the design will be the 'everyday' bike of the future:
"Carbon-fibre is definitely the future of bike technology as it is strong, super-lightweight and malleable...it's like lego for adults and would help people store and transport their bikes. The lotus style-shape and spoke-less, centre-less wheels would make the bike as aerodynamic and easy to ride as possible and I can also see a time when bikes house a tiny battery-powered motor to help people with tougher journeys."
Boardman seems to genuinely want to get more people on bikes, and thinks his design, which he says could be built now with available technology, is the way forward. However, carbon fiber frames are definitely on the pricey end of bike technology. According to Transportation Examiner Ed Wagner: "Some wag once said: Bicycles can be light, cheap, or durable. Pick any two." To really encourage riding, it seems like cheap and durable may be more important than light.
Sanyo's first carbon fiber e-bike will cost $6,700; its eneloop-branded folding e-bike to be released at about the same time (non carbon fiber) will cost around $1,100 (at more than 18 kilos, the eneloop folder most decidedly is not 'light'! But folders have a better hedge against theft than even the best technology - in dicey situations you just take them with you.
Read more about future bikes and folding bikes at TreeHugger
Winning Design Concept Connects Folding Scooters, Electric Buses, and Bike Trees
Ride Like the Sun: Solar Electric Bicycle
Commuter Bike Competition Winner Raises Interesting Questions
The Contortionist Folding Bike by Dominic Hargreaves (Awesome!)