Personal mobility is one of those 'key words' that car companies use when they're talking about future scenarios. It's effectively a marketing phrase that's been accepted into mainstream culture, and there are countless studies and projects attempting to find the best and most compelling solution.
But perhaps the ultimate personal mobility device is one that's been around in various forms for several hundred years – the humble bicycle.
Many auto companies started making bikes before cars: Rover built a 'safety bicycle' back in 1885—the first bike with a metal chain and a contemporary frame-design—while Peugeot started cycle manufacturing back in 1888, and are still creating bikes to this day.
But what happens when car companies collaborate with bike-makers? Below we look at some of the more high-profile collaborations, and several of the more obscure, future collector's items. Here are ten that feed our design curiosity:
Loosely based around the 8CTF track car from 1955, the 2010 Montante luxuriates in beautiful detailing. Nothing carbon-fibre here, it was a love-letter to the hand-built machinery of the 50's. A hydraulic front disc-brake is the one concession to current technology on this romantic cruiser.
2. McLaren Specialized S-Works Venge
As you'd expect from two legends of their respective racing worlds, the McLaren S-Works series was and probably still is state of the art for lightweight, aerodynamic racing bikes. Six-years in development, the Venge is the ultimate expression of McLaren's composite material expertise and Specialized's bike design.
3. Pininfarina Fouriserie
A hand-crafted beauty, designed to pay homage to coachbuilt Italian cars of the 1930's. Pininfarina are active in bike design, currently with DeRosa, but this bespoke model built by 43Milano, was limited to a 30unit production run and cost around $10K depending on spec. Handlebar and saddle-leather are inspired by the interior of the Lancia Astura Bocca, an iconic model designed by Pininfarina in 1936.
4. Jaguar TeamSky
Ok this is more about the car than the bike—in 2014/15 TeamSky collaborated with Jaguar with a support vehicle, developed by Jaguar's SVO (special vehicles operations) team and featuring a special racking system to carry the two Pinarello Bolide bikes, plus all the necessary support equipment (very) tightly packed in the Jaguar F-type's trunk.
5. Volkswagen Trek
Perhaps the earliest marketed collaboration, the 1996 VW Golf and Jetta Trek edition came with a bespoke cycle rack, edgy 'Trek' interior trim, and the icing on the cake: a unique Trek mountain bike. Basic by today's standards the bike had that most 90's piece of equipment; the twist-grip gear-shift. A guaranteed collector's item—if you can find one.
6. Aston-Martin One77
Reflecting Aston's bespoke luxury-sports image, the One77 was limited to 77 units to guarantee exclusivity—the £25K price-tag no doubt helped with that too, and it featured leather-trimmed handlebars alongside the usual full-carbon construction. Factor bikes were partner to Aston-Martin on this project.
These next ones are cheats, not being 'collaborations' in the strictest sense, but they're car companies' takes on urban mobility or the last-mile, and each have their own distinctive automotive DNA:
The last mile solution. The 2015 MoDe:Flex tackles the problem of urban zoning where you typically have to park outside of a city-centre and then ride to your place of work or home. The larger of the MoDe concepts doesn't actually fold, it 'collapses' and thankfully it doesn't look like a folding bike either...plus it fits in the trunk of your, obviously electric, commute car.
8. Smart ebike
Full of features that were pretty cutting-edge back in 2012, this electric city bike features brake regen, full smart-phone integration, and a carbon belt.
There are many more functional bikes than this, but the Onyx concept that was developed alongside the equally stunning concept car in 2012 is here because it's a beautiful piece of free-wheeling sculpture.
What was it about 2012? Another ebike concept, this time from Audi—the most edgy of them all with full suspension, telemetry for ride-evaluation, and a carbon-fibre wheelset to keep the bike under 20kgs: impressive for a fully-suspended ebike.
So next time you hear the phrase 'urban mobility', remember—the answer might have been around for longer than you think...
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Dutch super car builder Spyker teamed up with Koga-Miyatato produce this quite nice piece of work.
You missed out the Moulton Land-Rover.
My favorite automotive/bicycle design collaboration has to be the Peugeot DL122 concept. Checks so many boxes for "urban mobility"
Mazda unveiled this with the latest mx-5. Not a bad effort.
Good Lord, bicycle makers are stuck in a rut.
"But what happens when car companies collaborate with bike-makers?"
Disagree. While there are sometimes odd concepts from the car companies, they typically surpass the vaporware ideas of 'casual' bike designers. Many of the advanced concepts are even rideable - the Audi one, while more like an electric motorcycle, was actually built and ridden. The Aston-Martin was real, and had some novel ideas brought to life, not to mention being gorgeous.
So the car designers "win" because they don't have hubless wheels? I suppose that is a win, but setting the bar awfully low. The best feature on the Audi is the wheelset. Except those are vaporware. Any picture of someone riding that bike is not on those wheels.
And why do you need a dropper seat on an ebike? It looks awfully uncomfortable for plooting around town.
You left out a collaboration between BMC and Lamborghini - https://www.racycles.com/product/detail/666
Very nice - some spec similarities with the Venge.
I see you missed one that is worth noting. It is the Colnago and Ferrari mountain bike. I thought it was quite nice when it came out. I think the year was 1998 or 2000 and it was around $11,000.
I hadn't seen that - nice wheelset, and carbon frame?
I think there was a road bike collab as well.