Julie Lasky | Projects

Faraday Utility Bike

Nothing on the road is more prosaic than a vehicle designed for hauling loads. Unless, of course, the vehicle has been imagined by a leading industrial design firm working in partnership with an innovative American bicycle manufacturer. In which case you have Faraday, one of three utility bike prototypes to emerge out of a competition sponsored by the nonprofit Oregon Manifest, and the only model to earn not just the unanimous plaudits of a jury of hardcore bike nuts but also a People’s Choice Award.

Designed by the team of IDEO and Santa Cruz, California–based Rock Lobster Custom Cycles, Faraday is practical yet visually suave. Its front-positioned rack can be swapped out with other modular components for carting different kinds of loads. Lights are discreetly tucked into the tubing; sensors switch them on automatically at dusk. A leather saddle and grips, and ash-wood fenders add touches of non-utilitarian luxury. And when the rider gets weary of peddling, a hidden motor kicks in, having ascertained the exact amount of assistance required.

Ross Evans, the activist founder of the cargo bike company Xtracycle, who was part of the four-member jury, said that the jolt of juice in a utility bike was like the delectable addition of peanut butter to chocolate — “better when they work together. ... I believe that the only way that the masses will ever ride daily for transportation is with the ability to carry cargo and a simple, elegant electric boost.” Fellow juror Jeff Menown, a faculty member at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon, took this appreciation a step further by applauding “what’s missing … a big, ugly, heavy battery that seems to be on every other electric-assisted bike I’ve seen.”

Jeremy Spencer, a former senior editor at Outside magazine, who writes extensively about bicycles, conceded a prejudice against motor-assisted bikes, “otherwise, it’s a motorcycle, right?” But even he had a change of religion. “Well, dammit, this isn’t a motorcycle,” Spencer said of Faraday. “It’s a brilliant update of the French porteur with a little lightning up its butt, and I love it.”

In winning the challenge, Faraday edged out LOCAL, the prototype for a cheerful, orange-accented utility tricycle designed by Fuseproject with SyCip Design. It also beat Fremont, a bicycle with an attached, convertible sidecar built by Ziba Design with Signal Cycles. More on all three designs here.

Posted in: Product Design

Comments [5]

This is not a delivery bike.
It is a modified racing bike.
Frame, handlebars and seat dictate riding in a racing position in sports clothes regardless the gender.
A delivery bike needs an upright seating position for good all round vision - think how the human head rotates - so the handlebars need to be far higher than the seat.
This bike with seat much higher than the handlebars puts the rider in the opposite position which limits forward vision and restricts lateral vision (head rotation, sic). It invites danger.

The frame needs to be without both of the extraordinarily high bars. Even one is unnecessary on virtually all bikes. During deliveries, any crossbar will severely hinder mounting and dismounting as well as limit the bike's carrying to less than 50% of its potential: A delivery frame is ideally a low step through. it is convenient and far safer and by stepping through and not over the bike, high loads can then be carried on the back. On this bike, rear loads cannot be carried. If attempted, one leg will be prevented getting over it and onto the bike.
Basic purpose and function have not been considered here.

The front forks need to curve forward for foot space and be longer as the front wheel needs to be half to two thirds its size to permit a far deeper delivery basket above the wheel. The same should be considered for the rear wheel: A step through frame with smaller wheels would be a common sense design starting point.

A chain guard is imperative to protect rider clothing and prolong chain life.
The rear wheel needs a dress / coat guard.
The stand looks poor in comparison to normal production ones on Dutch and Danish bikes.
The seat is a racing one. A better delivery seat is wide and with soft padding supported by radiating springs.
The frame needs some suspension - on the pole and perhaps the forks as well.
The mudguards look like they have been appropriated from Sogreni who are continuing this nostalgic style from a 1911 model. Adequate mudguards will curve around the wheels.
The gears, brakes, dynamo and motor option are regular production components worldwide. Built in lights have long been standard equipment in Europe.
It seems no lock and no bell have been built into the bike.

As a teenager in the '60's, I did deliveries on my sister's English bike. Made by Swift, it was their "sports / tourer" with step through frame that was light with semi- upright seating position, hub gears, chainguard and seat by Lycett that was wide with radiating springs, covered with horsehair padding and soft leather. The bike was extremely comfortable. It had a high top speed and allowed good traffic vision.

The decision here has been made without knowledge of mechanical structure, without mechanics of human operation. I recommend the committee members look at www.gazelle.nl/ and www.velorbis.com/ sites. They will see many regular production models with optional motors such as Gazelle: Worker, Orange, Bloom, Balance, MPB, Toer, Velorbis: Studine Balloon, Cargo Bike, etc, that are far more suitable for deliveries than the dedicated one posted here.

The committee has looked at style, not design. An emotional, not rational decision. Their choice is an unnecessarily dangerous vehicle when compared to what is otherwise available. Pre-requisite knowledge is absent here.

This bike is a pastiche, a conglomerate of styles, not design. If a student produced it, the submission would be ignored and the student instructed to start from scratch with the reminder that, unlike style, design does have a purpose.
Peter van der Veer

A delivery bike whose rider might grow weary of "peddling"?

I agree with Peter

I don't. the "racing" position is mechanically efficient. . Chain guards are weight.
Russell McGorman

Well said Peter. A significant part of design is craft and tradition. The designers of this bike decided to ignore both those vital elements, blinded my their egos and a desire to conform to dominent trends in the upscale hipster bike market. The result is dismal, the antithesis of innovation. Great designers have the strength of humility. Sad to see the Ideo name associated with this polished turd.

Jobs | June 21