The consensus regarding the "FLIZ" concept bike we saw a couple weeks ago was a general sentiment that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"—specifically, that the draisine-inspired novelty was inferior to the tried-and-true diamond frame. Still, we can't fault designers for trying, and Priority Designs are the latest consultancy to try their hand at rethinking the bicycles.Forkless, chainless, and dynamically adjustable, the concept was radical. But turning a sexy concept illustration into a working prototype is a tall order. It would require creative engineering, design sensitivity and serious fabrication capabilities. Priority Designs had all of those, along with the passion to sweat every detail...and get it done in time for the show.
The Columbus, OH-based design firm developed the Continuously Ergonomic Race Vehicle, or CERV for short, for Cannondale, who came up with the concept and brief to the Priority Designs team.The CERV features a dynamically adjustable headset that moves both fore-and-aft and up-and-down. The genius lies in achieving the above without altering the seat-to-crank height. This system puts the rider in an optimal position based on the terrain. The headset translates forward and down for a clean, low-drag position when descending. When climbing, it moves up and back, creating a more upright position for maximum leverage on the crank. Doing all this with a traditional fork in place wasn't going to cut it, so a single-sided swing arm was proposed. Designing a forkless front-end has its own challenges, integrating it into a multi-axis adjustable system is another degree of difficulty altogether.
Priority Designs took the original concept sketch and got to work exploring mechanical solutions to the challenges presented. In addition to working through the mechanisms in SolidWorks, mock-ups were built and key components were tested. Ultimately, a proof-of-concept bike was fabricated to validate the engineering principles and define the working envelope. Cannondale reviewed the mechanical solutions and dimensional realities revealed by the test mule. A revised concept illustration was created and the team at Priority Designs was given the green light to turn the vision into a reality.Image via Slowtwitch
That's right: a functional prototype of the CERV debuted at Eurobike just under two weeks ago. While I imagine it was mostly for show (and not test rides), I can't help but wonder if the unorthodox design translates to unparalleled performance: I've never ridden a shaft-drive bicycle, much less one with an elaborate steering mechanism (it looks something like a piston)... but I'd be especially curious about whether the dynamic geometry comes at the expense of stiffness and ride quality.
But the real question is what nickname we'll go with: the frame looks something like a cross between an "X" and a "Z," though the latter might make a logical successor to the Y-Foil of yore (à la Gen X
» Gen Y).
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Slippyfish has it right here, this is a concept for concept sake. ID is not brain surgery, just enjoy the ride.
You know this? For sure?
They prototyped it. They built it. Its rideable, albeit barely. It thus passes the chasm from unreality into 'it could be done'. No its not mass-marketable. Not inexpensive. But they went several rounds further into the design and execution than most other high-profile concepts do, to provide a proof of concept. This should separate Core77 from the chaff.
I would like to see something of this architecture look beautiful on its own, rather than as a shell/structure composition (like cars) as it currently stands.
No hubless wheels too.
Yes, this is from some established players and yes, they did bother to prototype it. +5pts. They did this primarily because they know design blogs these days are suckers for this stuff. please stop perpetuating it.
There is room for real innovation in the bicycle world, and there are many great new ideas around these days. This is not one of them.
The headset assembly is yes, more complicated, more heavy, etc but it shows how concepts previously the realm of vaporware (like Scott Robertson's awesome renderings) could be made to work. (funny, this actually looks a lot like one of Scott's images - http://payload8.cargocollective.com/1/5/176285/2460001/Scott_Robertson_bike_7_1200.jpg)
I think everyone would agree that its going to be extremely difficult to design a truly groundbreaking bike that will convince the general public, the tastemakers, and the bike aficionados of its worth. Considered concepts like this should be seen for what they are - potentially inspirational and thought-provoking, if not disruptive.
Horribly expensive drive shaft, that would be extremely difficult to service, and likely less options on high/low gear ratios.
And an utterly ridiculously overcomplicated heavy steering system, that unless it was in pristine condition is much more likely to suffer from "loose" steering, something unheard of on a normal bike, you only get that on cars.
And whatever bike that is in the last picture, I like how there is a piece of exposed tubing pointing right at the groin area!
Good design isn't about making pretty pictures or objects.
The first good on C'Dale et al. for getting back to the thing that made them so great in the 90's - out there, thought provoking concepts. The bike industry is generally dominated by white, middle class, middle age conservative men and frankly, it shows most the time. Concepts like this are great and get one thinking outside the box, rather than the endless tail chasing that goes on in the bike biz.
The second thought though is why would you? Pushing the concept lust aside, the idea of replacing what are some of the most rationalised components with ones that are heavier and more complex, escapes me. The steering mechanism for one is just totally pointless, given for sub 500 grams I can do the same thing with less parts and only a headset. This concept, as cool as it looks, would be heavier, more complex and probably offer no advantage at any point.
The sad fact of the matter is that the modern bicycle is as efficient as we can make it right now, and while occasionally we see some great ideas for frame design that use materials etc in different ways or bring in a new element, mechanical or otherwise, trying to 're-design' the bicycle from the ground up is really only an exercise is 'concept porn'.