Hello, bicycle commuters. Look at your bike. Now look at the Ultimate Urban Utility Bike. Now back to your bike. Now back to the UUUB. Sadly, your bike isn't the Ultimate Bike, but you may soon be able to buy one. The Oregon Manifest Bike Design Project (in partnership with clothing company Levi's) is attempting to find the ultimate city bike. Five teams created some impressive entries that could make urban biking way more fun, convenient, and safe.
The designs range from a stripped-down minimalist bike from Brooklyn design firm Pensa and bike maker Horse Cycles to a modular-storage concept created by San Francisco's Huge Design and 4130 Cycle Works that accepts attachments ranging from racks to baby seats.
A particularly intriguing high-tech concept emerged from a collaboration between Seattle-based design firm Teague and custom bike company Sizemore. The bike, nicknamed "Denny," features a handlebar that doubles as a lock, storage integrated into the frame, clever minimalist fenders that keep water off your clothes, turn signals, and lights that turn on automatically according to conditions.
Denny also has a brain. An onboard computer reads the terrain and riding demands and shifts gears automatically as needed. A front-wheel motor gives riders an extra power assist for tackling hills. Normally, you would expect a bike with this much extra equipment to look like a hulk, but all the components are integrated so as to create a pretty sleek-looking machine. Probably the biggest design change you'll need to wrap your head around is the rectangular handlebars.
It took about six months of work for the Denny team to create and build the prototype, which was inspired by the hilly terrain and particular demands of biking in Seattle. Denny faces some serious competition from the other bicycles in the challenge. Voting is currently open to choose the top bike, with the winner to be announced on August 4. The top bike will go into production through Fuji Bikes for a 2015 debut. Whichever bike emerges triumphant, it will set a new standard for urban bike design, allowing the future to unfold on two wheels.
August 4, 2014 update: The Teague bike has been been crowned the winner of the Bike Design Project. Fuji will be producing the bike, which will be available at retail.