I’ve made no concessions that the Trek Valencia is probably one of the best looking and riding bikes that I’ve ever been on (aside from some carbon fiber, dual suspension kit that I once rode for a few blocks in Lancaster, PA a bit more than a half decade ago). There’s something so nice about a bike that’s just built as functionally and aesthetically pleasing as possible. So, you can imagine some of the glee that I feel when looking at the Smart eBike by Hussein Al-Attar. Not only is it something different from the norm, but points to my own ride and the evolved lessons that would govern the next bike I own.
The Future: Smart eBike
I was enjoying a nice night of reading via Flipboard when I came across the Smart eBike over at Bicycle Design. A concept design (Hussein Al-Attar) that was made into a prototype and displayed at the Paris Motorshow at Daimler’s booth, the eBike is a look not just at the future of some technologies around the bicycle, but a look at how these can integrate with mobile and other initiatives.
Smart eBike has some innovative features such as a belt drive (instead of chain), and instead of using gears, uses an electric-assist motor that basically only helps you when you are pedaling. There’s also regenerative braking, integrated head and taillights, and some interesting takes on how the frame and wheels are designed to kind of take away the need for a suspension system. And then there’s integration with your smartphone that essentially turns your mobile into a logging/command center for the bike – it even locks the bike from use via the electric-assist when the smartphone isn’t docked.
Tons more detail about these features at the Daimler website (I want to get to the reason for the post).
If you check out the gallery, you can see that the Smart eBike has several impressive things going about it. Many of those things are items that I think about (or have thought about) in the past in reference to my bike.
For example, lighting was such a difficult proposition for me because I didn’t want lighting that broke away from the lines of my bike. Yes, I need to see and be seen in low-light conditions, but it can at least look good. You can see how this is addressed with the eBike.
Another thing is maintenance, and though my most recent mechanic (pic) would tell me that its better to have easily replaceable mechanical parts (brakes, gearing, etc.), I look at the lack of gears and electric-assist as a benefit for this kind of bike. I can see the eBike being on the same kind of roads that I take my Valencia, which is to say that I could sometime use some assistance (after 30 miles or so).
I really like what the eBike does in terms of smartphone integration. Though I do like and use (occasionally) Sports Tracker to log my rides, going beyond that to actually playing logger, mapper, media center (I ride to music usually), in a dock that charges the mobile while you pedal is a pretty nice solution to riding more often that appeals to me.
If you will, what I am looking for when I do move forward from my Valencia is a bike that takes the elegance and lessons that I’ve learned/am learning, and applies me to riding differently. Almost the same way Nokia Bots has (probably forever) changed the way that I look at mobiles. It isn’t enough to be lighter, faster, flashier, but the new bike has to evolve my ability to be self-propelled while also engaging my world differently than I had before.
Things to Consider
I can say that even if the eBike is only here in prototype form, it does give me things to think about. I’ve kind of decided already that a belt drive is a possibility. And getting lighting that is better integrated (but in a smaller generator) is also a must.
I wonder about what could be done with the smartphone integration side of things outside of putting a chip of some sort on my bike, that would pair with my mobile when I am riding so that logging and such are done. I’d really like to get to the point where I’m not thinking anymore about launching an application – it makes no sense if I’ll call it a smartphone ya know.
Until it is time for a new bicycle, I’ll look at things done in the market now (like the Valencia+) and keep refining my thoughts. At some point I’ll take off on a new set of wheels, and hopefully then, I’ll be as impressed with the ride as I am now with the possibilities.