Pensa and Horse Cycles held their big reveal party for their entry into the Oregon Manifest bike design competition and, well, the bike looks totally badass. Pensa invited me to their Dumbo workspace last week for a pre-reveal viewing and I left really impressed.
“Merge” is the result of a collaboration between two Brooklyn-based companies that the Hand & Eye has a ton of respect for, Pensa and Horse Cycles. They managed to keep the bike looking like a bike while also incorporating some totally unique and really useful design elements like recessed lighting, a front hub that generates electricity and a retractable rear fender and bike rack. Merge also incorporates a lock/phone pouch custom made by another Hand & Eye favorite and Brooklyn-based manufacturer Mer Bags.
As with the mark of many well-designed products, when you see a lot of the design features on Merge, you wonder why they haven’t been invented before.
When I interviewed Pensa’s Mark Prommel a few months ago about the project he said, “We wanted to offer a bike that could make it's rider feel confident navigating tight spaces, a compact and nimble ride. At the same time there is necessary utility. You need to be able to pick up a package, or a bag from the store and ride with it.”
That’s clearly been achieved. The bike keeps a narrow profile, which anyone who bikes in NYC knows is critical to navigating crowded streets where it seems like everyone - cops, citizens and delivery trucks - regularly drives (and parks) in bike lanes.
The “necessary utility” as Prommel calls it, comes in the form of a retractable rack that has a built-in bungee cord. A tweak to the traditional triangular frame design allows for the rack to pop back into the frame with the push of a button, and also the for the storage of a very cool geometrically shaped fender.
Other design elements I really like are the built-in automatic lights that are charged by the front hub, which means no more forgetting your bike lights or, worse, stolen bike lights. The team designed special triangular cuts in the frame so the lights can be seen from the side as well - A subtle detail that is really nice.
I’m also a huge fan of the Mer Bags pouch. It’s the perfect piece to hold a U-lock and a phone while it gets charged on the ride to work.
Voting for the competition starts today and winners are announced August 4th. There are teams from Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and New York competing. The winning cycle will go into a production run thanks to Fuji.
Let’s get this one for New York.
Watch a video of Merge on Vimeo here.