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.
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.
Was there a single 'eureka moment' when you arrived at a concept that would direct the rest of the bike design? Or was it an iterative process of adding to and subtracting from the classic diamond frame?
The "eureka" moment for us was a question brought to life at the kick-off. We knew we had to focus on inspiring everyday cycling—but how? How do we get the everyday person to want to get on a bike... perhaps for the first time? We instantly dove deep into what motivates a person to cycle. Not focusing on the object, but the motivation—balancing function and emotion with our design decisions along the way.
A "utility bike" can be task-specific or open-ended. Did you set out to address the established routines and use cases of an idealized rider, or are you hoping to expand a bicycle's utility to new, unfamiliar uses? Alternately, who, exactly, is the bike designed for?
The SOLID bike was designed for the everyday person, rather than the veteran cyclist. We believe in challenges—what is it that will convert an individual to be an everyday commuter? Our bike, and the companion "Discover My City" app aims to remove barriers to entry, provide curated routes and destinations, and simply, provide a seamless riding experience that is enjoyable and shareable.
Besides environmental factors such as weather and road conditions, how did the backdrop of Portland inform the design of the bicycle?
Portland is a cycling mecca, diverse in its terrain. A city with immersive neighborhoods and unique destinations. During our SOLID bike and "Discover My City" app development, we focused on where people want to go, and provide them the tool to get it done. In creating our low distraction, heads-up haptic navigation solution, our goal was to get people to look up and experience their respective city.
Bike nerds will be interested to learn about the materials and componentry; what were your criteria for customization versus off-the-shelf parts? Do you think you could develop any of the specific innovations as standalone products, or is the sum greater than its parts?
As the first connected, 3D-printed titanium, lifestyle bike, our bike includes many noteworthy features. In addition to creating and implementing new parts and components (i.e. haptic navigation in handlebar, embedded GPS module, one-touch electronic shifting, etc.), we also leveraged several custom elements of Ti Cylces including their philosophy behind their #SuperCommuter platform.