Reinventing The Wheel: Surveying Current Cycling Innovations

When it comes to cycling innovation and design there’s little doubt we’re in sort of a golden moment. Even though the bicycle was invented 200 years ago, thanks to Kickstarter, bike share programs and climate concerns, there’s more innovation and thought going into cycling design now than ever before.  

Basically, there are three areas of cycling that designers are focusing on: comfort, efficiency and safety. All of which need improving.  

Innovation for riders in places like New York is critical. Unlike say Boulder, which has moderate weather and long-established bike infrastructure, the weather is challenging here, drivers are crazy and distracted, and everyone is in a rush, including cyclists. 

One of the most promising and publicized cycling innovations of the last year is the Copenhagen Wheel. Partially funded by the city of Copenhagen and designed at MIT, the Copenhagen wheel looks really promising. The wheel stores energy and releases it later to increase speed and efficiency. And it never needs to be plugged in. 

There a few competing battery pack systems on Kickstarter that basically turn a regular bike into an electric bike. This one above, the ShareRoller, has gotten a lot of attention because it’s designed to attach onto a Citi Bike. Similarly there's the Pocket Bike Juice kit but it's a lot smaller, which is obviously a huge bonus. 

And when it comes to safety, there are a few really nice looking products surfacing on Kickstarter as well. The better bell from Spurcycle blew the doors of it’s Kickstarter campaign, raising $330,000, $310,00 over the amount that they asked for. It’s shipping this spring and you can follow their Instagram which has been updated with a  bunch of great manufacturing process shots. There’s also the Trigger Bell, a similar bell from a company in England. It looks like they’ll meet their goal. 

Vega Edge light system under her elbow.

Vega Edge light system under her elbow.

And then there’s new light innovations like the Vega Edge, which is on Kickstarter now as well.  

And finally we’ve got this sort of strange standup bike thing called the Halfbike.

This may fall into the category of “needless but interesting” innovation. I really can’t see why this upright riding position would be better but I’d be willing to try it. More importantly though, I appreciate that the designers are challenging the accepted norms of cycling and offering something fresh. 

We need as much of that as possible.

Additional Cycling Innovations: