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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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When you think of knockout sci-fi concept designers, you probably think of Syd Mead and/or Doug Chiang. Between Blade Runner, Tron, Terminator 2 and the later Star Wars films, both men have gotten their due. Their names also ring a little sweeter to us because both majored in Industrial Design, Mead at Art Center, Chiang at CCS. But for fans of this genre, there's another man whose name you may not know and whose work you should look at: Jean-Claude Mézières, whose background was not in industrial design but in illustration. And if you have seen the original Star Wars trilogy, you have seen the largely uncredited influence of his work (further down in this entry are the most egregious examples).

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Mézières' background is as wonderfully confusing as it is interesting: Born and raised in Paris of the 1930s and '40s, entered an art academy at the age of 15. After graduation he did two years in the French army, seeing action in Algeria, and briefly worked as an illustrator upon his discharge. Then he became so fascinated by the American West that he hitchhiked across America in the 1960s to fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming an actual working cowboy in Utah.

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After wrapping up his cowboy gig and American adventures, Mézières returned to France—and started an influential science-fiction comic book, at a time when sci-fi was about as popular in France as being a hitchhiking cowboy was.

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Posted by Ray  |  21 Aug 2014  |  Comments (7)

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When it comes bicycles, we're often inclined to say nay. Call us snobs/cranks/grouches or what have you, but we are generally of the opinion that you don't go reinventing the proverbial human-powered two-wheel conveyance. Here's a new one that (if nothing else) offers a new approach to an integrated locking mechanism.

Starting with the notion that any lock can be broken, Juan José Monsalve, Andrés Roi and Cristóbal Cabello have designed the "Yerka," a bicycle frame that features an integrated lock—i.e. the bike cannot be ridden if the lock is severed. Where many of the past Oregon Manifest entries (for which a lock is required per the brief) explored concepts that were integrated into the main triangle of the frame—Tony Pereira's version was deemed worthy of first place in 2009 and 2011—the Chilean engineering students have opted to build the shackle into a main tube. I don't condone locking to trees, but kudos to the team for developing a working prototype:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Carlos Tomas dropped his Mazda 6 off for a detailing appointment at a shop in Toronto. When he returned to pick it up, he noticed some cosmetic damage to the front of the car that he swore wasn't there before. But the body shop denied responsibility. A suspicious Tomas brought another car to the shop the following week, a sportier RX-8, and this time he secretly photographed the odometer before handing over the keys.

When Tomas picked the RX-8 up five days later, he noticed an extra 449 kilometers had been racked up on it. And amazingly, he received a CAD $45.60 bill in the mail from the local automatic toll collection agency.

We're guessing the designers and engineers over at Chevy have heard stories like this once too often, as they've actually cooked up a feature to solve this with their 2015 Corvette:

What's interesting is that the technology already existed as part of the Corvette's Performance Data Recorder package, which uses a small camera to shoot HD footage from the driver's POV, while a mic records the in-cabin audio and a computer records the vehicle data and telemetric info. The PDR was originally designed for track-heads who wanted to improve their lap times, but "We soon realized the system could have many more applications," Corvette product manager Harlan Charles said in a press release issued yesterday, "such as recording a scenic drive up Highway 101, or recording when the Valet Mode is activated."

The info and video can be viewed in-car immediately after recording, and it's also downloaded onto an SD card if you want to take the proof to the cops or just upload it onto YouTube. "Think of it," says Charles, "as a baby monitor for your car."

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Price inflation doesn't usually make a physical noise, but it did in 2008, in Cam Woods' neck of the woods. As gas prices rose to $4.50 a gallon, California-based Woods noticed that less folks were driving and more folks were buzzing around town on mopeds and motorized bikes. "All of these bikes were using 2-stroke engines that sounded like chainsaws on steroids," he writes. "I thought the forest was being cut down."

Woods reasoned that there must be a quieter, cleaner alternative than whipping around on a smoke-billowing two-stroke engine, and as a bicycle/motorcycle prototype builder for nearly two decades, he was in a position to do something about it. His work background made him well aware of a certain ubiquitous and tiny (50cc) Honda motor with a very long history:

The Honda 4-stroke horizontal OHV motor is the most popular and most copied engine in the world. It was first introduced in the Honda Mini-Trail 50 in 1969 and is still being used today almost unchanged in the CRF50. Companies in China have been making copies of the Honda engine for years with all kinds of variations in design and displacement, but all have the same motor mounts as the Honda. The copies of the Honda XR50 spawned a whole group of minibikes called "pitbikes." The amount of aftermarket performance parts for the Honda XR50 and its pitbike clones is endless.

Woods figured that the ubiquity and affordability of the motor—you can buy them used and inexpensive on Craigslist and eBay, and a new Chinese-made 50cc Lifan clone can be had for a little over $200—made it the ideal DIY snap-in powerplant. He then Frankensteined together a bike using off-the-shelf mountain bike parts connected to a custom frame and swing arm of his own design, and mechanically solved the problem of having both a motor and pedals capable of driving the rear wheel.

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Woods dubbed his invention the Motoped Motorized Bicycle. It was reliable, lightweight compared to a motorcycle, and slightly heavier than a two-stroke but a lot cleaner and quieter. It was also pretty efficient, delivering 120 miles of travel on a single gallon of gas. And swapping in larger motors was also possible; popping in something closer to a 150cc meant you could go as fast as 65 m.p.h, though the mileage dropped down to closer to 90 miles per gallon.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Aug 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Applied Minds is something like a think tank that actually creates things. The "interdisciplinary group of artists, scientists and engineers, with skills in architecture, electronics, mechanics, physics, mathematics, software development, big data analytics, system engineering, and storytelling" has worked on everything from vehicle engineering to cancer treatments to 3D interfaces to algorithms. So it's no surprise that co-founder and inventor Bran Ferren came up with a project as crazy as the KiraVan.

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The KiraVan is a massive truck that can do, well, everything, both on-road and off. It can scale 45-degree slopes. Its fuel tank can hold 170 gallons of biodiesel that provides a range of 2,000 miles between fill-ups. It stores enough food and water on-board for a crew of three to survive for three weeks between grocery runs, and all the while electricity is coming in from a bank of solar-charged batteries. The truck is engineered to run through both extreme cold and extreme heat. It can deploy its own freaking drones so you can scout ahead before you proceed. And oh yeah, there's a turbo-diesel motorcycle mounted to a small elevator on the back.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Aug 2014  |  Comments (11)

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On long-haul flights, both flight attendants and pilots need to take breaks. Yet airplane designers are of course forced to cram cabin crew rest areas into confined spaces, to leave more room for revenue-generating passenger seats. So how do they manage it, and what do these spaces look like?

Crew Rest Compartments, or CRCs, vary in design from plane to plane. Boeing's enormous 787 has this pimpish loft space nestled above the passenger compartment, where up to five flight attendants can catch some shuteye:

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The photo above is of the space as it exists in an actual airplane. If we look at the design-phase mockups, below, we can see the designers initially had a slightly different idea: In addition to the cleaner, clutter-free surfaces, the place is well-stocked with pillows in an effort to promote cabin-crew pillow fights.

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The pilots have their own separate sleeping compartment. It features the same privacy curtains suspended from ceiling-mounted tracks that you see in the flight attendants' bunk room.

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In this photo, shot by The Flying Engineer, we see the 6'3" Captain Pat Bearce is able to stretch out in one of these comfortably.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In terms of oh shit moments, this had to be a doozy for the train engineer. Last month nineteen cars on a 90-car train derailed in Montana. Some of those freight cars were carrying 737 fuselages on their way to Boeing, and six of them fell off, with three of them sliding down an embankment towards the Clark Fork River. Luckily no one was injured, and here's what the aftermath looked like:

An accident like this raises a serious logistical issue: What the hell to do with these fuselages? It's not like you can give six-packs to a couple guys named Jim and ask them to throw them back up onto the railcars. These things are loaded and unloaded with special equipment that bypassing rafters don't exactly have tied to the backs of their Super Dutys.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Because our view of an aircraft interior is typically what you see above, it's kind of cool to see, below, what we're actually sitting in:

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Now you see why airplane cargo containers are shaped the way they are.

And it's only in cross-section that we can appreciate how truly gargantuan an Airbus A380 is:

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While it's rare for us average Joes to see airplane cross-sections, there's at least one company that looks at them all the time. In fact, they create them. Air Hollywood, started by a movie producer who found shooting films in actual airports too logistically constraining, bills themselves as "the world's premiere aviation-themed studio." Whenever a movie, television show or commercial needs to be shot inside an aircraft, without the pesky security regulations of an actual airport, Air Hollywood is the only game in town.

Perhaps due to the relative proximity of L.A. and Washington State, the company's mockups are Boeing-based, with nary an Airbus in sight. Air Hollywood stocks full interiors for the 727, 767 and every model in between.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Aug 2014  |  Comments (7)

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After all of the design, engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing work for a car was completed, automakers then faced a logistical problem: how to get the product from their centralized factories to the consumers scattered across the country. In the early days of the automobile, when buyers were few, it was a viable option to stick two autos in a train boxcar and ship them off.

But as demand began to grow, the shipping capacity had to match. Sometime in the 1940 America's auto manufacturers, in collaboration with the railroads, developed a special car-carrying boxcar that would utilize the overhead space. At 50 feet in length, it had ten extra feet on the standard 40-foot boxcars of the time.

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Loading the thing was a pain in the neck, as a car was manually pushed inside, then jacked up towards the ceiling at an angle to accommodate a car coming in underneath it. (While I initially assumed the illustration above was incorrect in depicting the cars' orientation within the boxcar, it is in fact accurate as the automobiles had to be loaded in via a sliding door in the middle of the boxcar.)

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Posted by core jr  |   1 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This weekend saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of Monday morning, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

Yesterday, we featured Teague × Sizemore Bicycle of Seattle; our final stop is Chicago, where MNML × Method designed the Blackline.

Core77: Did you and Method know of each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Chris Watson (Project Manager & New Product Strategist, MINMAL): MINIMAL and Method were paired by Oregon Manifest. Coincidentally, our studio and Method's shop were located only blocks away. Our proximity made collaboration much easier during the early stages of the design process.

By its very nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise?

We relied on Garry to keep us grounded. From the beginning, we made the decision to showcase Garry's craft on our frame. Rather than limiting our design, choosing to make the entire frame using traditional craft was a good counterweight to our team's desire to push boundaries with different forms and materials. Conversely, the design team pushed Garry to experiment with different frame architectures that were outside of his comfort zone. Our collaboration was a constant exchange of ideas in which we arrived at a solution that could have only been realized through our joint efforts.

Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons? What was a particularly memorable area of difficulty when translating the design into fabrication?

A major element of our frame design is the single main tube, which is constructed by mitering and brazing several tubes together. It was not clear from our original drawings if the frame would hold up to the abuse of city riding. No amount of analysis could have helped; we needed to build and test a frame. Garry did an amazing job translating our ideas into a working prototype in order to confirm our design would work for the final product.

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Posted by core jr  |  31 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OM2014-Teague_Sizemore-Logo.jpgOM2014-Teague_Sizemore-1.jpg

This weekend saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of Monday morning, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

Yesterday, we spoke to San Francisco's HUGE × 4130 Cycle Works; here's a few words from TEAGUE × Sizemore.

Did you and Sizemore know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Roger Jackson (Creative Director, TEAGUE): Oregon Manifest did a great job pairing us with two incredible potential bike partners; we visited and spent time with both of them at their workshops. That alone was a privilege. To see true craftsmanship in the flesh, both makers had their own unique style and preferences for bike building. But this project was going to be a longterm engagement (nine months), so it was important that there was the ability to meet up regularly and a shared vision for what we wanted to achieve. Taylor Sizemore was a natural fit for our team, but was also excited to go beyond his own comfort level with the build, which excited us.

By its very nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise? Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons?

Intimate is right! Taylor is now part of the TEAGUE family! We've been fortunate with just how much time and energy he's put into this endeavor. From the first brainstorm, he was there, sparing and inspiring us. As for the education, he was fascinated with just how quickly we could get into 3D CAD and spit out prototypes on our 3D printers. I would also say from a technology stand point, being able to quickly mock-up and test lighting and haptic feedback concepts using arduinos, was also something we offered Taylor. As for us, the advantage of Taylor building custom bikes is that he knows exactly what works and what doesn't from an ergonomic standpoint. Something that may look cool or unique could negatively impact the ride comfort and quality. It was truly a mutual learning experience.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Up above you see snippets of exotic cars. What you don't see are the faces of the Italian men, now in their 70s and 80s, who designed them. "Almost everything we know about cars, we conclude unconsciously from [the] silhouette, face, details," writes Gianluca Migliarotti. "Isn't [it] strange that people who shaped our dreams through design [remain] virtually unknown?"

Filmmaker Migliarotti and automotive historian Daniel Tomicic are trying to rectify that with Driving Dreams, their documentary focusing on the second golden era of car design—the one that came not from America, but from Italy. In addition to looking at the big dogs like Giorgetto Giugiaro and Marcello Gandini, the DD team seeks to lens lesser-known but influential designers like Tom Tjaarda (who designed the DeTomaso Pantera), Aldo Brovarone (Ferrari Dino Berlinetta Speciale), Paolo Martin (Ferrari Modulo) and others. Here's the trailer:

Like what you see? Then help fund it--the team is running an IndieGogo campaign to finance the doc here.

Posted by core jr  |  30 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OM2014-Huge_4130-Logo.jpgOM2014-Huge_4130-1.jpg

This weekend saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of Monday morning, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

Yesterday, we spoke to Industry × Ti Cycles of Portland; today, we've got San Francisco's own HUGE Design × 4130 Cycle Works on EVO.

Core77: Did you and the team at 4130 know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Chris Harsacky (Huge): We didn't know of 4130 but after interviewing several builders we knew he was a great fit. Tom's background in product development made for an easy collaboration. He was also the builder that seemed most open to doing things different. From the outset, we knew our concept would be a departure from traditional frame design.

By its nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise? Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons?

It was certainly different from other partnerships. The very first meeting was more like a Q&A. Tom is a trained industrial designer so it made it a lot easier. The two major areas where we needed educated on were bike geometry and fabrication techniques/ materials. While we set out define a fresh gesture with new functionality, we wanted to make sure we were following acceptable ride geometry and using practical build techniques.

Transitioning into fabrication was pretty fluid actually. We had a CAD database that we based the build on. Things fell in place remarkably well. The hardest part was trying gauge how much time it would take to finalize the final bike. Its basically and appearance model that needs to function like a production unit.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Vikings loved to brawl, with both their enemies and with each other. Viking sagas are filled with tales of even longstanding friends happy to settle disagreements with steel. But as they piled onto their longships to go pillaging, their boarding process was a good deal more civilized than the melee that is modern air travel. For one thing, their storage was one-to-one; when 30 Vikings got onto a ship, there were 30 places to store things.

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That's because they carried their seating on board with them, and their seating doubled as their storage. Prior to boarding, the decks of a ship were bare. Each Viking plunked his chest down at his own rowing position.

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Enough Viking chests have been found, and replicas made, that we can take a look at their design. It's both intelligent and purposeful. The first thing you notice is that the tops were rounded to shed water, and perhaps to provide a modicum of comfort.

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Posted by core jr  |  29 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

OM2014-Industry_Ti-Logo.jpgOM2014-Industry_Ti-1.jpg

This weekend saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of Monday morning, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

Yesterday, we heard from NYC's Pensa × Horse Cycles. Here's the story behind Industry × Ti Cycles's "SOLID," representing Portland, Ore.

Core77: Did you and Ti Cycles know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Garett Stenson (Industry): We knew of Ti Cycles' reputation, their 25 years of experience, and expertise in bike craftsmanship. They are experts in metal, most notably, pushing the boundaries of titanium. The matchmaking and selection process for us was about close collaboration—is our builder willing to change the game, redefine the category, and truly make things better?

By its nature, the design/fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise?

To disrupt any category you need friction. Innovation hurts—tension is an important part of the process. We believe the best idea needs to be stress tested and the process, iterative. Bringing together Ti Cycles' craftsman mentality with INDUSTRY's modern and agile approach was the perfect marriage. We aligned on pushing the boundaries early on, yet respected each other's expertise. At the end of the day, it was about creating a meaningful (and winning) result—together.

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Posted by core jr  |  28 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OM2014-Pensa_Horse-Logo.jpgOM2014-Pensa_Horse-1.jpg

Today saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of this morning's launch, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

First up, Brooklyn's own Pensa × Horse Cycles, representing New York City.

Core77: Did you and Thomas know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Mark Prommel (Pensa): We had seen Horse Cycles on various design and local maker blogs, and were already really into his work. When we were invited to participate as the NYC representative for The Bike Design Project, Thomas Callahan was definitely at the top of the list of bike craftsmen we were interested in talking to. After meeting a few builders, the choice was easy.

By its very nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise? Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons?

One of the things that really made this relationship work well was the fact that Thomas is an established designer in his own right, and we at Pensa are also accomplished makers and fabricators. So it wasn't just a "we design it / you build it" relationship—it was a fully collaborative from the first day. All of our concepts were born out of our first few weeks of open collaboration workshops. Thomas was very open to our approach of establishing the big picture story of the bike first, ensuring it was unique, compelling, and based on real insight about the New York City urban rider. We had to make sure that we were looking at the full range of possibilities for the bike and that the foundation of our concept would have enough layers to make the end result truly special. In developing our early concepts together, Thomas lent a wealth of experience and expertise that prevented us from going down paths that would have been wrought with insurmountable challenges.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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It's 1952 in Cambiago, Italy, and a young man makes a fateful decision not to go into the family farming business. Ernesto Colnago loves racing bicycles, knows how to fix them, and wants to make them rather than tilling the soil. His father responds by grabbing an axe—and cutting down the family's mulberry tree, to turn the lumber into a workbench for Ernesto.

Colnago started selling high-quality custom steel frames in 1954, and in the subsequent decades gained a reputation for designing and building winning racing bikes. By the '70s, Colnago was making super-light steel frames, and in the '80s, used a then-radical top tube with an oval cross-section in a quest for increased stiffness. Then came the materials experimentation: Aluminum, titanium, and finally carbon fiber in a fateful collaboration with Ferrari in the late '80s.

By 1987 they'd produced their first carbon fiber prototype—but it wasn't ready for prime time. "The first fruit of Colnago and Ferrari Engineering's cooperation [was] the Concept bicycle," the company writes, "with carbon fiber tubes, composite three-spoke wheels and a gear system enclosed in the chainrings. The unusual gears [made] it too heavy for production, but the ideas in its frame [informed] all subsequent Colnago carbon fiber bicycles."

They've spent the years since working it out, and just this month they've updated their flagship bike. The Colnago C60 is hand-manufactured with the same process of "lugged" construction as its predecessor C59. Under this technique, the tubes that Colnago has formed from Japanese-made carbon fiber can be cut to specific lengths and inserted into a range of different lugs, or hubs if you will. This allows relatively quick and easy customization. (The alternative is to mold the frame in one piece, which would require a new, expensive mold for each variation in geometry.)

Watching the bike come together, it almost resembles a plumber cleaning and pasting PVC pipes together:

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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  16 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If I had to guess, I'd say that a smooth surface is better than a rough one for cutting wind resistance. And I'd be wrong. There's a reason golf balls have dimples: The dimples decrease the drag caused by wind, by a significant amount. In the middle ages Dutch men used to hit spherical pebbles with a stick to play what became golf. Later in the 1600s they started using wooden balls. And it was in the late 1800s when players noticed that that beaten up balls went further than the smoother, newer versions.

Now researchers have created a material that—when triggered by wind—can automatically morph into a dimpled surface similar to that of a golf ball. It sort of also resembles pruning of finger tips after soaking in water (in fact, the inspiration for this new material came from dried prunes.) See the video below from the MIT team led by Pedro Reis, who developed the "Smorph" (Smart Morphable Surface).

The Smorph operates on fairly basic mechanics. In fact, the useful function comes from a common mechanical failure that most engineers need to prevent at all costs: Buckling. The prototype is a hollow silicon ball covered in a thin and stiff layer of polystyrene. When the pressure lowers within the hollow ball the exterior automatically shrinks, and this creates the dimples. The key thing is to have a pattern of dimples—and not something random.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Jul 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Last year we looked at the unusual train designs of Eiji Mitooka, a Japanese industrial designer who specializes in railway carriages. Mitooka's awesomely retro Seven Stars luxury train was the coolest in his portfolio, and apparently the high-profile project has been a success, as Japan's JR East railway company has commissioned yet another luxury touring train: The Cruise Train, which forgoes the retro look of its predecessor and resembles an Italian boutique hotel on rails.

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Designed by Ken Okuyama of Pininfarina fame, the Cruise Train is unabashedly modern where the Seven Stars is classic. The Cruise Train's dining room looks like something you'd see in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza neighborhood, while the observation deck resembles something out of Gattaca. And if the standard suites, which feature sofa-chairs that apparently fold out into beds, seem huge by train standards...

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  10 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Concept bikes come in a few flavors—go down that proverbial rabbit hole, if you dare—but the rarest one may be the Apocalyptic Battle Rat Rod. This fierce fixed-gear is made by Antoine Hotermans of McFly Customs in Belgium. Known as the Apache Racer, it's stripped down way past the normal hyper-simple classic profile to the point of architectural absurdity, with plenty of odd flair added back in. Hotermans' work shows plenty of love for traditional lines, like the direct nod to Café Racer motorcycles, and much of his work includes vintage parts and found frames. Meanwhile, the total design somehow turns out aggressively modern.

ApacheRacer-double.jpgCitröen handle bar ends!

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Posted by Ray  |   8 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Well, you could always take a cue from our favorite IKEA hack of all time and use them to fuel a fire... but not only does burning pallets lack the elegance of the ad hoc bow drill (in the above hack), there are any number of reasons not to scrap them for firewood.*

We've seen from at least a few pallet-based design projects, including upcycled chairs and a full-fledged office, not to mention our own pop-up exhibition design. Among the pallet facts that we picked up along the way—some 700 million pallets are manufactured each year; North American standard pallets measure in at 48” × 40”—we were interested to learn that the EPAL-spec'd EUR-pallet comes in at different dimensions and standards.

It so happens that the 1200×800mm2 Europallet, as it is colloquially known, is suitably sized to span the (active) tram tracks that criss-cross certain cities around the world. Whereas several stateside and Italian streetcar systems run on 'broad gauge' tracks—wider than the 1435mm standard gauge that also turns up in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, etc.—the taxonomy also includes narrow gauge tracks, including a one-meter width in cities such as Antwerp, Basel, Belgrade, Bern, Frankfurt, Geneva, Ghent, Helsinki, Zürich to name a few. (Different widths are named after different locales, including Russian, Irish, Iberian and Indian, all of which are broad gauge; see the full list here.)

And while trams are certainly a practical mode of transportation, the tracks can be a hazard to certain smaller-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles or skateboards. Which brings us to Tomas Moravec's pallet hack:

While the Slovakian artist has created many performative works of sculpture, installation and video art since he made the Duchamp-meets-Alÿs piece in 2008, the video went up just a few months ago. The brief description notes that Bratislavan trams run on felicitously narrow 1000mm-wide tracks: "A new transport vehicle brings change into the spatial perspective of a passenger in motion and generally changes the life of the city, through which the pallet can run, guided by a map of the city lines." (We have to assume that it would technically work in any of the cities listed above as well.)

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Posted by core jr  |   3 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

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As of just a couple weeks ago, it looks like electric motorcycles are going big time... or, specifically, like Harley-Davidson is making a move into the future of transportation with the recently unveiled LiveWire prototype. Indeed, its styling is closer to a streetbike than Harley's iconic Super Glide or Softail, but beyond the fact that its jet-engine screech sounds more like a sounds like a podracer than a V-Twin, we'll leave it to the hardcore bike guys to provide feedback, as some of them have in the forum thread.

Although Harley has sent the prototype on national tour for test rides and feedback from the H-D community, the Milwaukee stalwarts are careful to note (in the unembeddable introduction video, linked above) that there is no production timetable at this early stage. Nevertheless, it's worth mentioning that cult favs Mission reportedly consulted on this moonshot (as they say) for the 111-year-old brand, and we'll certainly be looking forward to new developments for the LiveWire.

Head over to the discussion boards for an informal competitive review of the electric motorcycle space and design-related commentary (including plenty of eye candy); specs, tour dates and more, via another forum.

Posted by Ray  |   1 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The automobile industry may be on the cusp of a radical shift as a generation of would-be car owners opt for the comfort and convenience of car- and bike-share-enabled cities, but motorsport remains a source of inspiration and delight. Artist and designer Gerry Judah may well have one of the sweetest gigs in the industry—besides, of course, designing performance vehicles themselves—the Calcutta-born, London-based artist and designer has created bespoke large-scale installations for the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the past decade and a half.

GerryJudah-GoodwoodFOS-2009Audi.jpg2009: Audi

Founded in 1993, the FOS is an annual three-day festival that focuses on a hill climb on the grounds of the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. The 2014 event took place this past weekend, from June 26–29, when the historic estate once again hosted a sold-out crowd of 150,000 attendees; Judah's monuments, which showcase racecars of a selected automaker, have been a veritable centerpiece of the Festival of Speed since 1997. According to Judah:

Way back in the eighties, in order to supplement my sculptures, I used to build sets for many photographers. One of them was Charles Settrington who later became the Earl of March [who resides in Goodwood andd founded the event]. Many years later in 1997, he approached me to build a triumphal arch to suspend a Ferrari F1 car as a central display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. From then on, we established a good working relationship based on challenge and trust which has led to where we are now.

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Mercedes-Benz is the featured marque this time around, joining Porsche, Audi, Jaguar and Renault as two-time honorees; previous editions have also featured the likes of Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo, etc. The arch traces the paths of two speedsters—a and the late-model F1 W04—as they travel in opposite directions, the late-model F1 W04 ascending from front lawn as a 1934 Mercedes-Benz W25 begins its descent from the apex of a stylized contrail rising from behind the house. Engineered by Capita and fabricated by Littlehampton Welding, the 90-meter-long,160-ton parabola is an extruded triangular volume that neatly tapers at the ends. Here's the making-of video, as well as a few glamour shots of past installations:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  27 Jun 2014  |  Comments (9)

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They say, not unfairly, that the only upper body workout cyclists get is having to pump up their tires. That's certainly one reason fixing flat tires is such a bummer. To give your feeble T-Rex arms a break, and to save you mysophobes from a day of despair, check out the skepticism-inducing-yet-promising tool from PatchNRide.

The PatchNRide system is a little oblique, modeled largely by CAD drawings and a distractingly good-looking actor. From what we can gather, it works like this: you locate the source of your flat, remove offending debris, push the pointed business end of this tool into the hole, depress a needle into that hole, inject a rubber sealant into the inner tube, remove the tool, and refill the tire with air. In less than 60 seconds your ride has gone from bummertown to back in action. No tire removal and minimal grumbling at the side of the road.

Don't look at the strap*

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  25 Jun 2014  |  Comments (3)

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You probably have that one project. It's a little stupid, a little outlandish. It wouldn't fit into your real work, unless... you changed your work. Bill Webb is a partner at Huge Design, and he rides motorcycles. With a tech-heavy background in product design, Bill had always thought of designing a custom motorcycle but never had an excuse to try. It took some bad luck and a deep appreciation for bike design to make it happen.

After selling off all his motorcycle gear to start Huge four years ago, a friend gifted him a tired old Kawasaki zx7 Ninja. Despite its slightly regrettable "purple David Bowie" graphics, he rode the bike daily... until it was stolen. They recovered it from a San Francisco tow yard, parted out and bedraggled, and began thinking about what to do with it. Two years later, the bike has a completely different—and very distinct—personality, reinvented by its industrial designer owner. The resulting design is a stylistic blend of two very different aesthetic schools, pulling elements from both café racers and streetfighters together in a slick, stripped down package. To unpack the complex project Bill walked us through his inspiration, design and build process.


HUGEmotodouble.jpgWords and images courtesy of Bill Webb

Design Vision

To combine elements from two very different styles of custom bikes (café racer and streetfighter) and create the "café fighter." Café racers have been the hottest trend in the custom motorcycle scene for the last few years. The café racer usually starts with a Japanese street bike from the mid-70's. Unnecessary parts are stripped off and usually the seat/subframe area is heavily modified into a very minimal, flat single seat. Because the bikes are 30+ years old, there is very little technology to deal with and the bikes pretty much design themselves once all the factory parts are removed. The CB750 is probably the most used-donor bike to create this look. This style is pretty popular with hipsters and city riders who value the raw urban vibe of these bikes.

Street fighters by contrast are usually modern sport bikes that have been spun into aggressive-styled mean machines with wild graphics, neon lights and loud colors. Usually the streetfighter starts with a modern sport bike that has been stripped of its racing plastics. Without the plastics, these bikes can look a bit raw with random bits of electronics and plumbing exposed that were never intended to be seen. These bikes celebrate the ugliness and own it as an aggressive, mean aesthetic that the owners take pride in.

Our goal was simple: apply the honesty and proportional beauty of the café racer with the raw aggression and performance stance of a modern sportbike/streetfighter... and call it a café fighter.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This may be the craziest vehicle I've ever seen. A South-Carolina-based company called Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International produces the Terra Wind, a luxury RV that is freaking amphibious. It's not driving through deep water in that photo above, it is floating and powering through a lake via a separate marine transmission driving a pair of 19-inch bronze propellors. You have to see this thing in action to believe it:

Even crazier is the Terra Wind's origin story, as reported by Car and Driver. It was designed and built by CAMI founder John Giljam, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, never attended college and never took a single engineering class!

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